Why Do People Give Apples to Teachers?

Ask most teachers what they need to feel appreciated and apples likely won’t be very high on the list. Despite this, the association between educators and the fruit persists in back-to-school commercials and classroom decorations. So, where did the idea of gifting an apple to a teacher come from, and did they ever truly invite this gesture? It turns out that the all-American tradition may actually have originated in Scandinavia. Teachers in Denmark and Sweden in the 16th century were paid even worse than they are today. Because many teachers were single women, the families of the students were responsible for keeping them housed and fed. That meant a basket of produce like apples was more than just a token of appreciation — in some cases, it was payment. This practice continued in America, where the apple was a valuable commodity and a popular bartering item. Teaching wages eventually became high enough to live on, and bushels of apples were replaced with single apples the teachers could display on their desks. Though the idea persists in pop culture, teachers rarely receive apples from their students on the first day of school in modern times.