The prince of all flowers, the plum has long been held in high esteem for its beauty and also because it is one of the few flowers that blossoms in the cold of winter, making it an emblem of longevity. The plum blossom has a jade like translucent whiteness and is often used as a metaphor for an innocent and pure woman. In ancient times, plum-colored makeup, méi huā zhuāng (梅花妝), was considered the most exquisite, and only women of great stature wore it. When the plum blossom and bamboo appear together, they create a wish for 'double happiness,' and this combination is often given as a wedding gift.


Vivien Sung, Five-Fold Happiness: Chinese Concepts of Luck, Prosperity, Longevity, Happiness and Wealth, pp.119, Chronicle Books, 2002