Pomegranates originate from India, where they were known since prehistoric times. However, since antiquity they spread further west to the Middle East, Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean regions.
In many cultures, the pomegranate seeds are considered as the means of enhancing women’s fertility
The ancient Greeks realized very early the special therapeutic value and contribution of pomegranates for a good health, as well as for the cure of various diseases. This led to to the creation of various myths, beliefs and symbol isms for the pomegranate.
Because of the fact that they also did attribute fertility to this fruit, various images depict Hera, goddess of marriage and fertility, holding a pomegranate.
The myth of Persephone’s abduction is based also on pomegranate’s fertility power. According to it, while young Persephone was picking flowers from a field, she was abducted by god Pluto who had fallen in love with her. Thus, Pluto, who was the god of the underworld, called Hades, carried her there to his realm. However, her mother Demeter, goddess of fertility and fruitfulness of the Earth, lost her above attributes, due to the sorrow caused to her by the loss of her daughter. As an outcome, she ceased bearing fruit, resulting in the extinction of available food for mortals.
After that, Zeus, brother both of Demeter and Pluto, began to mediate in order to achieve Persephone’s return to the upper world.
Pluto, however, in order to keep her, gave her to eat a pomegranate, calculating that, by its consumption together with the contribution of his semen, Persephone would become super-fertile, to the advantage of Hades.
The intervention of Zeus had its effect. The multitask Persephone, equipped now with her fertility and ensuing fruitfulness, would share her time between the upper world of Earth (spring and summer), and Hades (winter). So, as a result of Persephone’s fertility, due to Pluto’s pomegranate that she had eaten, people can savor, during spring and summer all the fruits that are produced on our Earth. On the contrary, during winter, when Persephone resides in Hades, nature does not produce fruit.
The pomegranate’s representation appears also on a kore statue excavated from the Acropolis surroundings. This particular kore, is holding with her right hand a pomegranate, symbol of fertility and happiness.
Since antiquity, up to nowadays in Greece, the breaking of a pomegranate has always ensured good luck and fertility for a newly built home.
Today, however, the custom has evolved, so that the breaking of this fruit, or even its simple hanging at some point in the house, provides beyond good luck, even happiness, health, joy, abundance, success and love for any upcoming new year.