USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘pomegranate’
Customs
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613 Seeds in a Pomegranate

When collecting folklore from my friends, I asked, “Jodie, what d’ya got?”

My informant Jodie told me that she believes that there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate.  When I asked her where this came from, Jodie told me that it’s a Jewish belief.  Still not understanding the connection between Jews and the number 613, Jodie explained that there are 613 commandments in the Jewish Bible.  I was under the impression that there were only 10 Commandments given to Moses, but contrary to my belief there are 613 commandments within the Jewish tradition.

Jodie learned this in Jewish day school in her youth.  I asked if this belief had any significance.  Do you eat pomegranate on any special occasions? Any special dishes with pomegranate?  She explained that its sometimes served on high holidays.  However, she does not celebrate the high holiday where the pomegranate is most popular, Tu B’Shvat.  This holiday is known as the New Year for the Trees and eating fresh fruit is a custom on this holiday.

I asked Jodie if she had ever counted all of the seeds of the pomegranate.  She said that she did in elementary school, but how can you trust elementary school students to count that high?

The fact that Jodie and her classmates counted the number of seeds in the pomegranate demonstrates that this belief is present within the Jewish community.

folk metaphor
Folk speech
general

Story Closure – Armenian

Story Closure – Armenian

“At the end of a story or fairytale that a mother tells her child, she always ends with: ‘Three pomegranates (or sometimes apples) fell down from heaven. One’s for the story teller, one for the listener, and one for the entire world.’”

The informant was unsure as to why her mother said this after telling her stories, but stated that she knows both pomegranates and apples are symbolic. I agree that this symbolism is important, as apples are often viewed as fruits of knowledge, while pomegranates can be seen to represent fertility. In my opinion, this sort of closure to the story depicts how each participant in the storytelling process, including the society in which it exists, benefits from the story. The heavens give each person a fruit at the end of the story. In some ways, this seems to possibly symbolize the seeds of knowledge and ideas that are implanted in a child’s mind by their parents through storytelling. Furthermore, it seems to be a variation of other story closures, such as “happily ever after.” Perhaps it is also just a way to end a story on a happy note, while also allowing the storyteller/narrator to assert themselves outside the context of the story at the end of their performance.
I found a few variations of this story closure, usually only in the last part of the phrase. Instead of “for the entire world,” a couple variations say, “for he who understands” or “for he who takes to heart.”

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