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Friday, June 14, 2013

Strawberry Facts and Folklore

The strawberry is a berry that is attached to many positive things through symbolism and folklore. The flowers and berries together symbolize righteousness, perfection and spiritual merit in Christian art. The structure of the leaves, being trifoliate, represents the trinity. During medieval times, stone masons applied their carved strawberry signs onto altars and at the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals.

Pagan tradition echoes this in that the three leaves are thought to represent the three-fold Earth or Mother Goddess. In Victorian flower language, the berry symbolizes perfection and “sweetness in life and character.” It also represents modesty because the berries are often found under the leaves.

In mythology, Strawberries are connected to the Norse goddess of love, Freyja. Also, a Norse legend  exists where the spirits of children enter the afterlife by hiding in strawberries that are taken to heaven by Frigga, Oden’s wife. This may be related to the Native American view that wild berries are “a special gift of Creation” to children and women.

Many Native Americans believe that during enstruation and pregnancy a woman’s body becomes very toxic. Since they view strawberries and their leaves as blood purifiers and builders, laxatives, diuretics, and astringents, they can be used to cleanse the woman’s body during menstruation and after childbirth.

Because of their bright red colors and heart shapes, strawberries were the symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love. Legends often tell about love rituals. Be careful with whom you share a double strawberry. It is destined that the two of you may fall in love.

If you live in Bavaria, somewhere out in the country, you might be participating in an annual spring ritual that recognizes the importance of strawberries. The farm folk make an offering to the elves that they believe will help their cows produce healthy calves and a good supply of milk. The spring offerings of little baskets filled with wild strawberries are tied to the horns of their cattle to wait for the berry-loving elves to enjoy the berries and offer their good spirits to their hosts.

Birthmarks that are the size, shape and/or color of strawberries are often called strawberry marks, and historically have been seen as a sign of witchcraft. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, had a strawberry shaped birthmark on the back of her neck that was used as proof that she was a witch.

Karl von Linne, a Swedish botanist whose Latinized name was Carolus Linnaeus, defied common thinking and ate a diet of only strawberries to prove them quite edible.

But true to the nature of folklore in which something like the strawberry can have different meanings to different cultures, the strawberry was considered hazardous in certain parts of South America.

The Seneca Indians linked strawberries to spring and rebirth because they were the year’s first fruit. As such they hold a special place in the culture and, therefore, bring good health.

And, of course, there are the Roman legends about strawberries. Most commonly, that when Adonis died, Venus wept tears that dropped to the earth and became heart shaped strawberries.

Ever consider bathing in the juice of fresh strawberries? Twenty-two pounds of crushed strawberries made up the bathwater that went into the tub when Madame Talien, one of the court figures of Emperor Napoleon, took her bath. This ritual did not occur often since people did not bathe regularly during Napoleon's time, mid 1700s into the early 1800s.

Note: This post was compiled by ShirleyTwofeathers for Gypsy Magic. You may repost it only if you give credit and a link back. Bright Blessings.

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