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I flew to Crete on New Year's Eve, and the flight crew offered all of us a pomegranate and instructed us to break it open at midnight.

What's the story there? How is the pomegranate connected with celebrating the New Year?

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ABC News explains it here:

In Greece, the pomegranate has held strong symbolic meaning since ancient times. A common tradition on New Year's Eve is to throw pomegranates on the ground, and break them apart. The more they burst, the more abundance your household will have.

Crete is in Greece, and so the pomegranate is well known as a sign of abundance.

also:

In Ancient Greek mythology, the pomegranate features prominently in the story of Persephone and her marriage to Hades, the god of the Underworld. Hades kidnapped Persephone and took her to the Underworld to be his wife. Persephone’s mother, Demeter, goddess of fertility, considering her daughter lost, went into mourning and thus all things on earth ceased to grow. Zeus, Persephone’s father, commanded his brother Hades to release her, however Hades had tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, and it was the rule of the Fates that anyone who consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Since Persephone had eaten the six pomegranate seeds, she had to remain in the Underworld for six months of the year. Hades agreed to release her to the world above for the other six months of the year, to be reunited with her mother. This is how the ancient Greeks explained the cycle of the seasons: when Persephone was with her mother, the earth flourished and the crops grew (Spring and Summer); when she returned to Hades, Demeter mourned and the earth was infertile (Autumn and Winter). As a consequence, pomegranates were often offered to the goddess Demeter in prayer for fertile land.

If you TLDRed it, then basically, the myth of Persephone and Hades ties in because offerings were brought to Demeter in the sign of a Pomegranate.

  • Pomegranates were offered to Demeter? Why would they offer a reminder of the food which forced her daughter to leave her? That seems counter-intuitive. – Lauren Ipsum Jan 3 '16 at 12:29
  • Well, they apparently did :^). – bleh Jan 3 '16 at 14:09
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    I think it's the other way around. The pomegranates were offered to Demeter early, and later a myth developed around it to explain the ritual. – C. M. Weimer Jan 3 '16 at 17:37
  • Yes possibly true. – bleh Jan 3 '16 at 20:10

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