Throughout history the pomegranate is referenced in Greek culture as a symbol of prosperity, good fortune, fertility, and even has a connection with the dead.
At funerals it is tradition to hand out parcels containing a mixture of boiled wheat, sugar and pomegranate. Ornaments in the form of pomegranates are also gifted as lucky charms at New Year and at weddings, or as a house warming gift. Of its numerous mentions in Greek mythology, my favourite is in the story of Persephone...
Hades, god of the underworld, fell in love with Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter. So, one day when she was out picking flowers, he kidnapped her and took her to live with him “down bellow”. Demeter’s grief for the loss of her child was such that it caused all of the earth’s crops and fruit to start dying. In order to prevent everyone from dying from starvation, Zeus ordered Hades to return Persephone. The Moirai (three goddesses of fate) have said however, that anyone who eats anything while in the underworld will be condemned to live there for eternity. Therefore, just before Persephone’s release, Hades fed her six pomegranate arils; in doing so, he bound her to the underworld for six months of the year. These six months are cold and barren and the blooming of flowers comes each year in spring, when Persephone returns to ground level.
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