A classic part of many American breakfasts: a glass of orange juice (photo courtesy Sting | Wikipedia).
 Celebrate the day with something special: a rim of Tajin seasoning on your glass of orange juice (photo © Tajin).
 A glass of blood orange juice is a special treat (photo © Mongibello Juice).
 Squeeze your own (photo © Marina Raspopova | Unsplash)./span>
 Squeeze your own, part 2 (photo © Cotton Bro | Pexels).
 Growing in a grove (photo © Philippe Gauthier | Unsplash).
May 4th is National Orange Juice Day, a holiday sponsored by the Florida Department of Citrus. Florida processes more orange juice than any other state. The U.S. produces more orange juice that any other country except one.
Florida’s crops are mostly juice oranges, while California produces the majority of table oranges.
Brazil is the leading global orange juice producer by far, with production volume of more than three times the second-place producer*, the U.S.
Brazil 1,022 million metric tons
U.S. 297 million metric tons
Mexico 90 million metric tons
HOW TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL ORANGE JUICE DAY
Start by checking out our 10 Uses For Orange Juice, beyond drinking a glass of it.
We’re starting our celebration with:
A big glass of blood orange juice with breakfast (photo #3).
A dinner that includes a blood orange cocktail, roast chicken basted with blood orange juice and a vinaigrette with blood orange juice.
A blood orange granita for dessert.
CITRUS BEYOND ORANGES
Lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit, tangerines and pomelos are just a few of the juicy citrus fruits grown in Florida.
Citrus contains the anti-carcinogen antioxidants known as flavonoids.
Citrus also is packed with fiber and vitamin C, and lesser amounts of calcium, potassium and vitamin A.
CITRUS HOLIDAYS TO CELEBRATE
Beyond orange juice
January is National Citrus Month
National Clementine Day is February 15
National Mandarin Orange Day is March 20
National Oranges and Lemons Day is March 31
National Orange Juice Day is May 4
National Orange Blossom Day is June 27
National Grapefruit Month is February
National Lemon Juice Day is August 29
National Lime Day is September 26
You may come across other holidays with a citrus title that don’t honor the fruit.
For example, March 24th is National Orange Day at Syracuse University, when students and alumni honor the university’s color, orange.
THE HISTORY OF ORANGES
There are three types of oranges: sweet oranges (Citrus x sinensis), bitter oranges (Citrus x aurantium) and mandarins (Citrus reticulata)—here’s the difference between mandarins and oranges.
Oranges are members of the Rutaceae family, which includes the citrus genus and many species within the genus (grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges, pomelos, etc.). There are some 1,600 subspecies.
The oranges we mostly consume are sweet oranges (bitter oranges are used for marmalade and some other culinary purposes).
The sweet orange is a hybrid between the pomelo (Citrus maxima) and the mandarin. Sweet oranges are about 70% of the global citrus industry.
Wild oranges originated in the region that is now southern China and northern India. They have been cultivated for at least 7,000 years in India, and in China for some 4,500 years.
They were bitter and originally used for medicinal purposes, with sweet varieties developed after centuries of breeding.
It is believed that traders from the Persian Empire brought oranges from India and Sri Lanka to the Roman Empire, as early as 100 B.C.E. Oranges then spread by multinational trading ships and caravans.
The Romans, known for bringing their agricultural products to their conquered territories, spread orange trees across the Mediterranean. From Libya, groves spread to Morocco and Spain.
Portuguese traders established trade routes around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope to Asia. Their travels introduced oranges around the globe.
Italian traders traded oranges in the Mediterranean region in the 1400s.
Spanish colonists brought oranges to the New World by the 1500s. Ponce de Leon is alleged to have brought the first orange trees to Florida in the early 1500s.
By 1579, the city of St. Augustine, Florida had its first citrus groves.
The French brought oranges to what is now Louisiana.
The Spanish brought oranges to South America and to their missions in Arizona and California.
By 1841, William Wolfskill was planting and selling oranges in Los Angeles, California.
DEVELOPING THE MODERN ORANGE
By the 11th century, using seeds of Persian oranges, Spain and Morocco began to produce improved orange varieties.
One well-known variety is the Seville orange from Spain, a bitter orange used for marmalade and liqueurs.
Soon, oranges were grown on Cananeia, an island off São Paulo in Brazil.
Orange became a popular and healthy fruit globally.
Today, oranges are the fifth most-purchased fruit in the U.S., following bananas, apples, strawberries and grapes [source].
The bulk of U.S. orange crop consists of three main varieties: the Washington Navel, the Valencia and the Hamlin. Other varieties, including the blood and bergamot oranges, are grown in smaller amounts.
The Washington Navel orange has a thick, easy-to-peel rind and is easy to segment, making it one of the most popular eating oranges. It is not used for juicing, as its higher limonene content adds bitterness.
The Valencia orange is smaller and juicier than Navels, with a thinner rind and few seeds. It is popular for juicing.
The Hamlin is similar to the Valencia, but with a lighter color fruit and juice. Seedless, it is popular for juicing.
*A study of the leading orange juice producing countries worldwide in 2019/2020, from Statista.