The Pomegranate, is the oldest cultivated fruit tree and is cultivated since 3000 BC.Its fruit was used in ancient times for its medicinal properties.
Symbol of good luck, abundance and fertility, the pomegranate is said to be originated from northern India, later to be grown systematically throughout the Mediterranean, too.
In Ancient Greece, during the festivities which were held in honor of goddess Demeter, known as the "Thesmophoria", the athenian women atepomegranate seeds to gain fertility and prosperity. The priests of goddess Demeter, the Hierophants , were crowned with pomegranate branches during the great mysteries in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Hera, the mother of the gods, was considered as the patroness of marriage and fertility and was often depicted holding apomegranate in her right hand.
According to a greek legend, the first pomegranate tree sprouted from the blood of Dionysus Zagreus, but another myth states, that the first pomegranate tree was planted in Cyprus by Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
The most famous legend associated with the pomegranate, is the abduction of Persephone by Hades. According to the legend, Hades offered her seven pomegranate seeds to eat, in order to keep her in the underworld with him. Thus, the pomegranate was the symbol of the arrival of spring, after the cold winter in the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries.
The "breaking" of the pomegranate for luck on the first day of the year is a well known custom in Greece. For the same purpose, the newlyweds "break" the pomegranate before entering their new home. The pomegranate is a symbol of resurrection and life in Christianity and in Christian art, it is a symbolof hope.