Elder and Sister Watts

Elder and Sister Watts

Hill Cumorah Visitors' Sites Mission Statement

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
3 Nephi 5:13

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


While I was working as an elementary school teacher I was always delighted by the "apple gifts" students and families gave me as tokens of appreciation. I received a blackboard eraser with my name and an apple painted on it, kitchen towels with apples embroidered on them, apple aprons, apple stationary, apple jewlery, and yes, even real apples.  One student even brought me in a beatiful apple of enormous size!  It was about the size of a small pumpkin.

Now, while here in Palmyra, New York, serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am even more in love with apples.  Upstate New York is famous for its apples.  I'm sure you've all had a Seneca apple product.  These apples come from the beautiful apple orchards near where we live.  Last spring we went for a drive and ejoyed looking at the acres and acres of beautiful apple trees in blossom.  You can get a feel for what I'm talking about by viewing the pictures I took displayed in the short collage

Recently, we took the same drive, near the shores of Lake Ontario, in the rolling farm lands of upstate New York. We saw the same trees laden with delicious looking apples, nearly ready for the harvest!  See pictures of those trees in the following collage:

Since thinking about apples I've started wondering where the tradition of giving apples to teachers came from.  Because we have two farms here at the sites, the Whitmer Farm and the Smith Farm, I have also been thinking about farmers in the early 1800s a lot.  Most people during that time had gardens and fruit trees.  School started in the fall, after the harvest and apples would have been a gift  almost any family could afford to send a teacher.

This is an apple orchard on the Smith Farm and a close up view an apple on a tree in the orchard.


I did some internet research on why we give teachers apples and learned the following:

One of the common practices in Sweden, Denmark and the U.S. at the first day of school is giving apples to teachers. This tradition is practiced to show appreciation for the efforts of teachers in educating children and young people. To know why people associate apples with teachers, it is important to know the history of the tradition. In addition, it is also necessary to know what apples symbolize.

Apples and Teachers
Why are apples associated with teachers? People commonly see the fruit as a symbol of variety, change and growth. It symbolizes change and variety because it comes in different colors such as green yellow and red. Additionally, the fruit has various tastes like sweet, sour, as well as tangy.  Likewise, teachers play important roles to the emotional, mental as well as physical growth of students.

An apple from the Whitmer Farm

The PeterWhitmer farm home in Fayette, New York

The Tradition of Giving Apples to Students
Why are apples associated with teachers? Another reason why people associate apples with teachers is the tradition from the 16th century until 18th century in various countries including Denmark and America, in which parents paid educators with foods like fruits. During this time, teachers did not receive enough salary to sustain them. To compensate the efforts of educators and to make them feel special, parents paid them with different varieties of the fruit.

Teachers and the Bible
Some people associate apples with teachers because of the story in the Bible, which says that Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Even if the apple is not stated or mentioned in the first book of the Old Testament, there are people who still believe that apple is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Since teachers offer knowledge to students, individuals associate apples with them.

Modern prophets of the Mormon Church have always valued education and tried to instill that value in church members.  Additionally, in July of 2001, under the direction of the current prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, the Perpetual Education Fund was established.  Through this fund The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has helped over 40,000 men and women throughout the world receive education, training and employment opportunities to better their lives and the lives of their families.

I want to send out to all students, of every age, and especially my grandchildren, that are embarking on a new year of education, the very best wishes for a wonderful and productive school year.  I also want to send great appreciation to teachers everywhere for their dedication and service to the cause of education!  Thank You!


  1. I love your apple collages--great pictures! You found some interesting history, too. I hope you are eating lots of those delicious looking apples from the Smith and Whitmer farms. (One of the perks of the job, right?)

  2. We love New England's apple traditions too. Ever since moving here three years ago, every fall we make apple chips, apple sauce, and fruit leather. In fact, now that we're back home, I have another bushel to process before they go soft!