Three Friends of Winter岁寒三友
The Three Friends of Winter, also known as Suihan Sanyou, are the pine(松sōnɡ), bamboo(梅méi), and plum(竹zhú). Every year, as the cold days deepen into the winter season, many plants begin to wither, but the pine, bamboo and plum do not was noted by the Chinese. Known by them as Three Friends of Winter, they entered the conventions of East Asian art. Together they symbolize perseverance(毅力yìlì), integrity(完整wánzhěnɡ) and modesty(谦虚qiānxū). They are highly regarded in Confucianismand as such represent the scholar-gentleman's ideal. The accompanying text on the late Qing Dynasty stele illustrated below comments on this association.Today, we will insight into this three plants.
Culturally, pine, bamboo, and plum are regarded as linked in the context of winter because they flourish together at that season. For this reason they are commonly known as the Three Friends of Winter or referred to simply by their linked names: Song Zhu Mei (松竹梅) in Chinese, transliterated as Sho Chiku Bai in Japanese. The pine and plum-blossom add their fragrance(香味xiānɡwèi) to the cold air and are therefore valued as bringers of distinction to adverse conditions. This is further emphasized by the evergreen qualities of pine and bamboo, added to the early flowering of the plum while snow is still on the ground, and makes of them symbols of perseverance and integrity. In this connection, they also symbolize longevity(长寿chánɡshòu): bamboo and pine because of their evergreen quality, plum blossom because it reappears on the age-old branches.
In other weathers the three sometimes have contrary meanings. Since the pine withstands the wind it symbolizes endurance, whereas the bamboo bends with the wind and survives in that contrasting way. Plum blossom, however, is scattered by the spring breeze and in that context symbolizes the transistorizes of life and beauty. So, in a Korean poem by Kim Yuki (1580-1658), the three friends are brought together in order to underline the paradoxical contrast: Peach and plum of springtime, don't flaunt your pretty blossoms; Consider rather the old pine and green bamboo at year's end.
What can change these noble stems and their flourishing evergreen?
In Japan the three plants are known as 'the three auspicious(吉祥jíxiánɡ) friends' and are particularly associated with the start of the (lunar) New Year, appearing on greeting cards and as a design stamped into seasonal sweets. The three plants are also used in a traditional Japanese grading system, with pine as the top, bamboo as the middle, and plum as the lowest grade.
This is the three friends of winter, in other countries also use bamboo as the Christmas tree in winter, so this three plants is very important in the world.