Pomegranates are believed to be one of the first cultivated fruits, based on excavations from the Early Bronze Age. They are native to Iran and the Himalayas, and were cultivated over the entire Mediterranean regions of Asia, Europe and Africa, and extending into China.
They often symbolize mortality or are associated with the flesh and blood, perhaps due to their sanguine color. Pomegranates were buried with the dead in Ancient Egypt to aid their passage to the afterlife. In the Qur’an, pomegranates grow in the four gardens of paradise. They’re woven into vestments of Christian priests, and also said to be embroidered on the robes of the Hebrew high priest. Buddhists see pomegranates as one of the three blessed fruits.
In Buddhist mythology, the demoness Hariti kidnapped and devoured children, until Buddha came to her and showed her what suffering she was causing. She then vowed to protect all children, and instead ate pomegranate to satisfy her thirst. In Greek mythology, pomegranates thought to be the fruit of the dead, and sprung from Adonis’ blood when he lay dying in Aphrodite’s arms. When Persephone is lured to the Underworld by Hades, he tricks her into eating six pomegranate seeds, thus tying her to him. Her mother Demeter was so saddened by her daughter’s absence that the world fell into a cold winter. Pomegranates are in season in September through November when everything transitions to the cold winter.