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Pomegranate

The Red Fruit that Stands for Good Fortune & Good Health

Since antiquity, the pomegranate has been a symbol of plenty, youthfulness, fertility, and good luck. This red coloured delicious fruit is bursting with vitamins to boost our good health and is cracked open to release its bright red seeds as part of a Greek custom observed on New Year’s Day. According to tradition, a pomegranate is to be broken in the morning on each house’s front door threshold for good luck during the New Year.

Let’s find out how this fruit has played an important role in Greek art across the centuries. We’ll also provide you with a few tips about including it in your diet as well as in your daily skincare routine.

 


The Pomegranate in Greek Mythology and History

The pomegranate tree has been known and appreciated since the ancient times; it is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, as a tree grown on the island of Scheria or Phaeacia in the gardens of King Alcinous. Theophrastus, an ancient Greek philosopher and Hippocrates – known as the father of modern western medicine- refer to the pomegranate’s beneficial effects to our health.

In Greek mythology, this fruit is considered as the symbol of fertility and rebirth, and it was associated with the worship of three major goddesses: Hera, Zeus’ wife; Aphrodite, the goddess of love; and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and nature’s rebirth.

A well-known myth associated with pomegranate is the one about the abduction of Persephone by Hades, god of the underworld. According to the myth, Hades offered this fruit to Persephone, Demeter’s daughter, in order to seal their eternal bond. The pomegranate was also used during the Eleusinian Mysteries (major ancient Greek religious festivals), as priests wore wreaths made of pomegranate tree twigs during the ceremonies.

 


Art

Archaeological finds have shown that the pomegranate fruit was known in the Mediterranean area and depicted on objects of art. In Fylakopi, Milos Island, vessels were unearthed with pomegranate decorations on them (1650-1450 BC, National Archaeological Museum). In Akrotiri, Santorini Island, excavations brought to light bicolour containers with pomegranate motifs painted on them (17th century BC). On Crete, among the Minoan-period findings, there are pomegranate-shaped vessels (17th century BC). In Mycenae, East Peloponnese, a necklace was unearthed with gold pomegranates on it (National Archaeological Museum, 16th century BC). In Athens, a brass pomegranate was found on the Acropolis, and it is on display at the National Archaeological Museum.

In modern Greek art, the pomegranate has been a source of inspiration and a favourite theme to a number of painters such as G. Iakovidis, N. Gyzis, N. Lytras, G. Bouzianis, Y. Kottis, and to writers such as G. Seferis, O. Elytis, N. Engonopoulos, and others.

 


Add Colour and Taste to Your Dishes

The pomegranate is a seasonal autumn and winter fruit in Greece. Its juicy and delicious seeds can be used in many dishes: add them in your turkey or lamb stuffing and dress your green salads with these red flavourful pearls. Another great idea is to try pomegranate jam or spoon sweet. Use the pomegranate juice to make a tasty sauce for your meat dishes, or try it as jelly or syrup for ice cream and sweets. Oh, and there’s a lot to be said about a glass of pomegranate liqueur, too!


Elixir of Health and Beauty

Did you know that pomegranate seeds are a type of superfood, rich in sugars, vitamins A, B, C, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and iron, and that it has more antioxidants than red wine and green tea?

This great-tasting fruit is also used in skincare products. Greek cosmetics companies, well-known for their use of Greek plants, make the most of pomegranate extracts in their anti-ageing skin-nourishing products.

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