The pomegranate: The Most Ancient of Fruit. Myths and Origins
I want to tell you about Panagiotis and his pomegranates.
Panagiotis is one of the most amazing characters that I know.
I use the word “character” in the nicest way possible.
First, let me tell you about the history and myths of the pomegranate.
The pomegranate, a rosy-hued fruit, bursting with plentiful, ruby-red, jewel- like seeds, is one of the oldest, cultivated fruits.
The ancient Greeks believed it to have been planted by The Goddess of love, Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology) on the
Other stories have the Pomegranate originating in
The pomegranate is a symbolic fruit, signifying beauty, love, marriage, fertility, birth, rebirth, hope and prosperity.
The pomegranate is a symbol of eternity.
|Madonna and the Christ Child|
A story of love and abduction, in Ancient Greek mythology, has Persephone, daughter of Demeter, Goddess of harvest and agriculture, kidnapped by Hades, God of the underworld, who fell in love with her at first sight and carried her off to his kingdom, the underworld.
Demeter, mad with sorrow, hunted everywhere for her daughter Persephone, going as far as to disguise herself as an old lady and with a lighted torch in her hands, roamed the Earth for nine long days and nine long nights.
Finally, the sun God Helios told Demeter that Hades had carried Persephone off to his underworld.
Demeter found Hades and they struck a bargain, Persephone would live four months on Earth, with the living, and eight months in the underworld. (The number of months spent in each place differs,depending on which story is read)
Notice the Elysian Fields at the upper left hand corner of the map, the only good spot in Hades!
Before being set free from the underworld, Persephone was persuaded to eat six pomegranate seeds (In ancient mythology, to eat the fruit of one’s captor meant that one would have to return to that captor), to make sure she returned to the underworld when her time on Earth was up.
That’s Hades hedging his bets!
|Ruby-red pomegranate seeds|
This myth, one of disappearing and reappearing, was the origin of festivals in ancient Greece, among them the Eleusinian rites, whose secrets were so closely guarded that little is known about them today.
One festival that we do know a bit about, is that, in ancient
Greece, after the harvest, a three
day feast occurred, devoted to the Goddess Demeter, mother of Persephone, the
third day was devoted to women, where pomegranate seeds were eaten to guarantee many children and much prosperity.
|Making pomegranate juice|
Even today, young brides in certain Greek villages, throw pomegranates through the door of their new house, with such a force, that the pomegranate bursts open, scattering the seeds.
This ritual is said to ensure a happy marriage and the birth of many children.
|Seeds like jewels|
The pomegranate is a seasonal fruit, ripening in the autumn, autumn being the beginning of the new year in ancient times, wreaths, decorated with wheat stalks, walnuts and pomegranates, adorned houses, much as is done today at Christmas time.
|Christmas wreath with pomegranates and wheat.|
pomegranate is a symbol for the New Year, and is used as a decoration at
Christmas and New Year as a good luck charm.
The pomegranate is also a biblical symbol, and is mentioned in the great religions of the world.
Biblical symbol of love, beauty and marriage
Mohammed, the Muslim prophet, advised pregnant women to eat pomegranates, a symbol of beauty, so that they would bear beautiful children.
The pomegranate is seen everywhere at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, much as it is in Greece, also, in Jewish mysticism (Kabbala), as in Greece, pomegranates are burst open on religious days, as a call for fertility and prosperity.
|Pomegranates to bring good luck|
Another ritual, of symbolic value involving pomegranates, used even before Christianity and still performed today in
is the eating of koliva at funerals and memorials.
The Greek word koliva comes from kolivos, meaning a small coin; in ancient
Greece it was called pansperma,
(seeds or sperm) meaning a mixture of seeds and nuts.
Pansperma was consumed at the pagan festival of Anthesteria (one of the four Athenian festivals honouring Dionysus, held in the month of Anthesteria, spring time)
This dish, containing cooked wheat kernels, nuts, raisins, sugar and pomegranate seeds, symbolizes rebirth or resurrection.
Some religions consider the pomegranate to have been the fruit of The Tree of Life.
"The Tree of Life"
Owing to it’s wealth of symbolism, the pomegranate has been portrayed in art for thousands of years, on pottery, carpets, embroidery, fabric pattern and in some wonderful paintings.
|"Girl With a Pomegranate"|
|"The Blood of a Pomegranate"|
Wallpaper design; Bird and Pomegranate
We've all seen this one!
Now, about Panagiotis, where shall I start?
Well, to keep with the theme, he grows pomegranates, acres of them.
Panagiotis not only grows pomegranates, but also, the juiciest of apricots and peaches, the tangiest of lemons, the tastiest of mandarins, unique, flavourful quince, and quality olives.
In the small
, located twenty two miles
Southwest of Corinth, Panagiotis and his father, Anastasios, run an organic
farm which has been in their family for three generations. village of Ancient Sikyon
Ancient Sikyon, Corinthias
Here, on these sun-drenched, fertile plains, Panagiotis, and Anastasios, cultivate organically grown fruit and vegetables of the highest quality and nutritional value.
Just as Mother Nature intended, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
|Tasting the wares|
In 2012 Panagiotis, ever on the look out for something new, took things a step further by using his traditional, organic produce to create delicious marmalade, jams, spreads and juices, now available in supermarkets and specialty gourmet shops, throughout
|Drypes organic pomegranate jam|
Panagiotis' yummy pomegranate and apricot jam,
just a couple of his delicious flavours.
|Drypes organic apricot jam|
Enjoy all types of fruit, even when not in season, not unnaturally grown in some clinical hot house, something that goes against Panagioitis' beliefs, but dried.
Scrumptious as a snack or to enhance breakfast cereals, try them in homemade museli, or bake a fruit cake with them.
|Dried fruit from Drypes|
Drupes is the name of the company Panagiotis runs, drupes means any fruit that has a stone e.g plums, cherries, apricots, peaches etc.
See their website below.
Panagiotis’ specialty is his pomegranate petimezi; pure, concentrated pomegranate juice.
An ancient Greek sweetener, used before sugar was ever heard of.
|Drypes organic pomegranate petimezi|
Pomegranates in a bottle.
Enjoy the benefits of one of the most ancient "super foods" all year round.
Enjoy the benefits of one of the most ancient "super foods" all year round.
Panagiotis, who believes that fruits and vegetables should be used only when in season, not grown unnaturally in a greenhouse, starts his pomegranate petimezi production at the beginning of autumn, when the rosy fruit is ripe.
The fruits of Panagiotis' labours!
grape petimezi but much more nutritious, is made from 100% pure pomegranate juice
This wonderful nectar is absolutely full of vitamins, AB and C, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and iron, pomegranates have been proven to contain more antioxidants than red wine or green tea.
from 100% pure pure concentrated pomegranate juice
Its uses are endless; diluted with water as a cool drink in summer.
Or drizzled over yogurt or ice cream and when mixed with balsamic vinegar, it makes a delicious dressing for salads.
Panagiotis is a true nature lover, born to be outside, riding his motorbike or his ATV, tending to his trees, feeding his hens, ducks, geese and peacocks, yes, he has peacocks!
Panagiotis showed me some tomatoes he has grown and explained to me how they are raised from ancient seeds, all the way from
and a type of Asian cucumber, again, an ancient species.
This is not all, Panagiotis has an artistic flair, he has created the most fascinating sculptures, made from stuff you or I would have thrown out, old lamps, useless bit of metal etc.
Panagiotis’ sulptures adorn his garden and add a wonderful Bohemian touch to his house.
|Panagiotis' work of art|
Panagiotis’ aim is to eventually be self-sufficient, to live off the land; I think he may very well succeed.
I could visit Panagiotis every day, there is always something new to learn, up there in his little corner of Ancient Sikyon, and besides, I do have a soft spot for him, he reminds me so much of my son, Johnny, both in looks and character.
|My son John|
Both lovers of nature and the great outdoors, and oh yes, anything with an engine and wheels!
Totally crazy, both of them, but in a good way!
|Keeping in the shade|
This picture says it all about Panagiotis!
I love it.
Among the ruins of Ancient Sikyon, with his digger.
Keeping cool in a way that only Panagiotis could think of!
More Magical Greek myths
Ichor. The blue blood of the Greek Gods