The pomegranate has long been a symbol of life. It is also a symbol of perfection, prosperity, power, beauty, nature, and immortality. This blood red fruit has been used in almost all world religions and cultures. It originated in the heart of the ancient world, but continues to be present in modern day.
Where are pomegranates from?
Pomegranates are a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fruit. Pomegranates originated in what know of as modern-day Iran (ancient Persia). They have become prolific in India, China, Japan, Italy, Spain, and the southern portions of North America.
Spanish colonists first brought them to the Caribbean. Later they were introduced to English settlers. English physicians found them to be healthy, and suggested that colonists eat the pips or drink the juice to remain healthy in the unfamiliar environment. Thomas Jefferson planted pomegranates at Monticello, while other prominent politicians had them in their own gardens in Georgia and South Carolina.
As a plant, pomegranates are incredibly hardy. They survive in drought conditions, can handle the rainy Mediterranean seasons, and can tolerate a moderate frost.
Pomegranates in literature
Pomegranates are the symbol of the Spanish/Andalusian city of Granada and adorn much of the city lampposts. This appears to be folk etymology, though. In Ancient Egypt, they were a symbol of ambition.
Pomegranates later appear in the Greek myth about Persephone and Hades, who kidnapped Persephone from her mother, Demeter. Hades brought her to the Underworld as his wife, and then tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds. Underworld rules stated that anyone who consumed food in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. However, Persephone convinced Hades to let her return to earth for 6 months. Hence the reason we have six months of fertility (spring and summer) and six months of dormant plants (fall and winter).
In most religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Greek Orthodox – the pomegranate is a powerful symbol of both the earth, rebirth, and life. The pomegranate is found on almost every continent and in every major culture. This bold fruit is given to the guest of honour in the Middle East, lending its name to hospitality. In Judaism, it is also a symbol of knowledge, learning, and wisdom.
Pomegranates as a travel symbol
You might now be wondering… “why on earth (bad pun) did Sarah choose a pomegranate to symbolise travel consulting?!”
Life, death, rebirth, fertility… these are all elements of change. When we experience these, we often yearn for either the incredibly familiar or the wide open world. In my research, when searching for the perfect design, I realised that a pomegranate with the world emblazoned on it was an apt metaphor for the changing world we live in.
Travel Unites was the theme of Virtuoso‘s 2017 Travel Week, the first one I attended after signing with Largay. As our world has become more and more divided over the past decade, uniting cultures and people through travel is more important than ever.
Oh, and the seeds of a pomegranate are called pips …. Paper Ink Passports 😉