Food plays an extremely important role in our lives as humans. It’s how we replenish our bodies and give it the fuel it needs so we can carry out even the most basic tasks. But in the old days, our relationship wasn’t always so straightforward—certain foods were worshipped and sometimes played a crucial role in certain ceremonies. We believed that specific foods provided divine protection while others were said to heal just about anything. This article outlines five foods that, for one reason or another, we believed were magical.
The saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” didn’t pop out of thin air. In fact, one of the oldest myths about apples is that it can cure all diseases and keep you healthy for a very long time. This fruit has appeared in the folklore of many cultures, such as the Irish who claimed that heroes would eat apples to maintain their youth and strength. In ancient Chinese culture, it used to be given as a gift of peace. And lastly, it’s a symbol of love. The Balkans for instance believed that an engagement was sealed when a woman accepted an apple from a man.
The ancient Egyptians absolutely revered onions and its perceived magical powers so much that it was painted into scenes of the pyramids and the altars of certain gods. Due to its concentric layers, they equated it to eternal life and would even bury their pharaohs with it, believing that onions would bring the dead back to life. Another possible reason why the Egyptians held the onion in such high regard is due to its antiseptic properties which they saw as a necessary item to have in the afterlife.
Today, corn is nothing more than a snack to munch on while our eyes are peeled to the screen. But for the Aztecs, the growth and harvest process of corn was tied into the three important cycles of life; birth, regeneration and death. Each cycle was represented by a corresponding female deity who the people worshipped and thanked heavily throughout the cycle of the crop. The deity Xilonen, who represented summer or the first crop, had her very own festival that involved lots of eating and dancing.
Depending on who you ask, dill is seen as either a pesky weed, or a delicious way to season your food. But the ancient Euopeans would have had much different answers. European monks believed that dill could drive away dark male spirits who preyed on women. In witchcraft, dill had two very distinct uses. The first was that drinking a glass of dill water could reverse the effects on any spell. And the second, was that it was a common ingredient in the potions and spells of witches, especially those with ill intentions.
It is said that Marco Polo introduced chives to Europe following his expedition from China. For the ancient Europeans, chives were more than just a seasoning to add flavor to their food. These edible bulbs were hung above doorways from the rafters as a way to keep malevolent spirits away. Another account stated that the ancient Romans included it in their diets because the plant’s strong flavor would apparently increase their strength. Hence why workers and wrestlers consumed it on the regular.
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