“The end is where we start from …”

I love rituals and I love symbols. As a seeker I’m always digging around for a sign or a metaphor in books, in nature, in life. I turn often to ancient wisdom and mythology. I celebrate the significance of eating certain foods at certain times of year. I marvel at a fibonacci sequence. While solstices are celebrated with seasonal festivals in the northern hemisphere, the arrival of the rains following the near-death of a landscape from thirst are celebrated down here with rituals like the “first-fruit ceremony,” which infuses the harvest with the blessing of the ancestors.

And it’s to the ancestors we turn today because at midnight they once again throw the dice. What rituals are you planning to celebrate the arrival of a new year? What symbolizes abundance, happiness and good health as you lay a path for 2015? What are your hopes and dreams for the year ahead?

In Greece and Turkey pomegranate seeds have long been eaten at New Year as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. I’ve read that just after midnight some Greeks will smash a pomegranate outside their front door to attract good fortune, while in Turkey they eat pomegranates for the blood-red juice that symbolizes fertility and longevity; the seeds, which symbolize prosperity; and the fruit’s nutritional value, which symbolizes good health.

Our pomegranates have started turning from green to “gold-filmed skin,” blushing here and there with near-ripeness. As they are not ready yet for picking, or for smashing on a doorstep we do not even possess, I present them to you in pictures instead, as a symbolic New Year’s gift of abundance and good fortune, alongside D. H. Lawrence’s poem, Pomegranate, which, according to Eli Mandel writing in the Paris Review, says that “all’s fair in love and war, and ‘Pomegranate,’ at its core, is a poem about love.” But as Mandel also says, “Lawrence knows this mythology. His poem is, in fact, a highly compressed commentary on it. … [He] does not deny the pomegranate its history of love and death, but neither does he view that history as problematic.”

Pomegranate

You tell me I am wrong.
Who are you, who is anybody to tell me I am wrong?
I am not wrong.

In Syracuse, rock left bare by the viciousness of Greek
women.
No doubt you have forgotten the pomegranate-trees in
flower,
Oh so red, and such a lot of them.

Whereas at Venice
Abhorrent, green, slippery city
Whose Doges were old, and had ancient eyes.
In the dense foliage of the inner garden
Pomegranates like bright green stone,
And barbed, barbed with a crown.
Oh, crown of spiked green metal
Actually growing!

Now in Tuscany,
Pomegranates to warm, your hands at;
And crowns, kingly, generous, tilting crowns
Over the left eyebrow.

And, if you dare, the fissure!

Do you mean to tell me you will see no fissure?
Do you prefer to look on the plain side?

For all that, the setting suns are open.
The end cracks open with the beginning:
Rosy, tender, glittering within the fissure.

Do you mean to tell me there should be no fissure?
No glittering, compact drops of dawn?
Do you mean it is wrong, the gold-filmed skin, integument,
shown ruptured?

For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken.
It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.

Annabel Hughes Aston is a writer and an award-winning chef in Livingstone, Zambia. She is the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.

8 Comments

  • Here in Naples wear something new and red for good fortune and eat lentils after midnight for good ‘cash in the bank’. Another piece of local advice – beware the high narrow streets as tradition has it that households launch their tired and old belongings into the street as they fire off fireworks from their balconies. Auguri!

    Reply
    • So did you, Georgie? Wear something new and red, and eat lentils? 😉 Here’s wishing you much good fortune and lots of cash in the bank, regardless! Oh, and I hope you weren’t hit on the head last night … happy new year to you!

      Reply
  • In our household on Christmas Eve – a pomegranate is always left by Father Christmas in the children’s stockings, along with a mango and an orange!

    Reply
    • Lucky them … ! It obviously paid off because look where they are now! Happy new year to all of you, Lou … xo

      Reply
  • Pomegranates are never a bad idea (except, perhaps, when wearing a white shirt). Happy new year, Annabel!

    Reply
    • Yes, we love pomegranates down here where, on the whole, wearing white is mostly avoided. It’s true the juice is red, but so is the dust that is tenacious in its capacity to coat everything … from the car seats to the chairs to the dogs. Happy new year to you, Michelle … I so look forward to reading more about the wonders emerging from your kitchen!

      Reply
  • Hi SavannaBel…am now following your lovely blog…I live in the Lowveld of Zimbabwe on another great river, on the Save River…
    Please do read my blogs, about wine, food, wild dogs and wildlife…
    http://wildlifeandwilddogs.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/atholl-brose-nectar-of-oats-and-whisky-sweetened-with-honey-a-scottish-drink-enjoyed-all-over-the-world-and-especially-at-new-year/

    Reply
    • Hi Lin … thank you so much for the follow, and your very kind note. I signed up for your blog a few weeks ago. It’s great … and I think you are a terrific artist, too. Multi-talented! The holidays, sadly, have been hectic, hence the delay in taking time out for pleasure, like reading up on other blogs. 🙂 Where you live looks magical. I’ve always wanted to visit that area … This comes with my best wishes for 2015. All the best, Annabel

      Reply

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