Apples have always been symbols of mysticism and love both in art and religion. But they are so much more than that.
How many lunch boxes have apples in them, I wonder. Not as squashy as bananas or plums, not as juicy as satsumas or peaches, apples are the perfect travelling fruit. As children we were told that they kept our teeth clean. Even better than that, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Statistically, that claim has been proven to be true. Read about amazing health benefits of apples. Though I'm not really sure why, as apples are not the most vitamin-enriched fruits when compared to bananas or oranges, although they are good. Perhaps they have some divine nutrient.
We are all aware of the apple (probably) being the fruit that led mankind into sin when Eve offered it to Adam. The lump in the throat of men has become known as 'Adam's Apple' because eating the forbidden fruit stuck in his throat.
However, the word 'apple' applied to all tree fruit except berries and maybe the apple wasn't the fruit we have come to expect. Then again, other cultures not related to the Old Testament have the round apple as we know it, in their mythology.
The Anglo-Saxons and Norse folk believed in a goddess called Idunn who kept some very special apples. They had the power of eternal youth and the gods needed them to keep alive, as the Norse and Anglo-Saxon gods were not immortal as many other gods appear to be. The god of mischief, Loki, had fun with Idunn and the magic apples, according to the Old Norse manuscripts. Idunn is a major feature in my book The Dark Garden. Apples were also saved for the drink and festival of Wassail.
In Cornwall the festival of Allantide took place on 31 October and included the giving of Allen apples. Before the end of October Allen markets would sell the special red, shiny apples so folk could give them as gifts. Lovely tradition. Evolved into the modern Halloween apple eating games of today.
In Greek mythology, Heracles had to pick golden apples from the Tree of Life as part of his Twelve Labours. The Apple of Discord was a golden apple given to the most beautiful woman...with the fiddling and squabbling of the gods and hearts of men, the result was the Trojan War...
26 September is the birthday of another special apple person, a man known as Johnny Appleseed. His real name was John Chapman and for forty years he travelled through America planting apple trees and handing out apple tree seeds. More than this, he continued to take care of the saplings as they grew, pruning and caring for them and helping the new settlers to create orchards. Born in 1774, Johnny Appleseed has become an American folk hero.
In October we will be celebrating harvest and Halloween by playing 'duck-apple' where we will try to catch floating apples with our teeth - more about that another time.
In 1990 the charity Common Ground designated 21 October National Apple Day and many apple-themed apple events take place throughout October. It's aim is to celebrate and protect the many species of apple, the environment, conservation and traditional countryside of Britain. Hopefully we can resurrect the ancient tradition of Bilberry Sunday, too.
The best thing about apples? Apple pie with custard. Mmm...