Myths, Legends and Traditions associated with Fruit – Volume 2 – (Article 2 of 6)

Myths, Legends and Traditions associated with Fruit – Volume 2 – (Article 2 of 6)

by Dr. Marli Botha

Many of the most significant fruits in world mythology, such as the apple, have different meanings to different cultures. Sometimes the same fruit can represent different things in different myths within the same culture.

Apples are brimming with symbolic meanings and mythic associations. In China they represent peace, and apple blossoms are a symbol of women’s beauty. In other traditions, they can signify wisdom, joy, fertility, and youthfulness.

Celtic mythology also mentions apples as the fruit of the gods and of immortality, or the ability to live forever.

Today the apple is often associated with an episode of temptation described in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Adam and Eve. Many people picture the forbidden fruit as an apple because it has been portrayed that way for centuries in European artworks. However, the apple was unknown in the Near East when the Bible was written there. The biblical description of the tree in the Garden of Eden does not name a specific fruit, and in some traditions, the forbidden fruit has been imagined as a fig, a pear, or a pomegranate.

The apple plays a significant role in the fairy tale of Snow White, especially the 1937 Disney animated adaptation Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in which an evil queen disguised as an old woman tempts Snow White with a beautiful red apple that turns out to be poisoned.

Apples still signify knowledge, and are a traditional gift for teachers on the first day of the school year. New York City is nicknamed “The Big Apple.” How it got its nickname is a matter of debate, but the general idea is that the apple symbolizes opportunity and plenty.

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