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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Legends and Lore

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Though this is not a factual medicinal cure-all, the vitamins, low-fat qualities and fiber in a single apple does keep a person healthier.

Apples originally grew wild in Europe and Asia and were introduced to North America by European settlers in the 1600s. Since Roman times, the apple has been a symbol of fruitfulness, cures, love charms, divination and chastity and our current game of bobbing for apples is a Roman celebration game to pay homage to Pomona, the Goddess of fruit trees.

In Greek mythology, it was Hercules who sought the golden apples of Hesperides for their immortality giving qualities. A suitor compelled Atalanta to race with him for her hand in marriage. He could not beat her in a race and used golden apples to distract her. In turn, he won the race, and she had to marry him.

According to Voltaire, the apple was the instrument/tool of Newton's law of gravity. Furthermore, the Iroquois Indians use the apple tree as the central tree of heaven. In early African-American folklore, an apple shaped birthmark could be removed by rubbing the mark with apples while keeping an apple-only diet.

In the United States, our biggest lore pertaining to apples is the story of Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman, 1774-1845). A transfigured hero, Johnny Appleseed encapsulated in legend and lore by song and poem, is credited with planting apples across the country. However, the truth is, he started in Massachusetts and worked his way west through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

Usually portrayed as bearded and barefoot with a tin mush pot on his head, he claimed that apples were news fresh from heaven and he used apple seeds and seedlings a currency in trading with Native Americans and other settlers. He was a small and thin man who went green way before Al Gore and called himself the gatherer and spreader of apple seeds. At that time, apple orchards and apple trees were used as an ownership marker of property, and the fruits and seeds were used as currency and were valuable for regenerative qualities.

Locally, we have our own orchards and traditions; The Cory Apple Festival marks the beginning of the fall season. Yard sales will line most every road leading to the festival and if you visited the festival, I hope you grabbed some caramel apple slices or a piece of apple pie. It is almost sacrilegious if you didn't.

"An apple a day ..."