Forbidden Fruit

In Western Europe, the forbidden fruit was often depicted as an apple, possibility because of a misunderstanding of the latin word "malum" which means evil, and "malus" which means apple.

Other potential forbidden fruits of the Garden of Eden include the pomegranate, the fig, the carob, the citron, and the pear.

The larynx in the human throat, more prominent in males, was consequently called an Adam's apple, from the notion that it was caused by the forbidden fruit sticking in Adam's throat as he swallowed.

The Judgement of Paris

The Greek goddess of discord, Eris, started the Trojan War with an apple. Miffed at having not been invited to a wedding, she tossed a golden apple among the guests inscribed “To the fairest.”

Each goddess thought she was deserving and started arguing. To put an end to it the mortal man Paris, known for his thoughtful nature, was asked to settle the dispute. He chose Aphrodite as the winner of what was probably the first beauty contest. Rejected, Hera and Athena wreaked havoc on Paris and his family, eventually leading to the Trojan War.

The number five

The number five is important in the world of apples, and not just because apple is a five-letter word. Apple blossoms typically form in clusters of five. An apple blossom has five petals. Red Delicious apples usually have five bumps (lobes) on the base of the apple. And the "star" you see when you cut an apple in half is due to the fruit's five seed cavities. Each cavity has the potential for 2 seeds, thus 10 seeds per apple are the norm.

The tradition of bobbing for apples dates back to the Roman invasion of Britain, when the conquering army merged their own celebrations with traditional Celtic festivals. The Romans brought with them the apple tree, a representation of the goddess of fruit trees, Pomona.

When an apple is sliced in half, the seeds form a pentagram-like shape, and it is thought that the manifestation of such a symbol meant that the apple could be used to determine marriages during this time of year. From this belief comes the game bobbing for apples. During the annual celebration, young unmarried people try to bite into an apple floating in water or hanging from a string; the first person to bite into the apple would be the next one to be allowed to marry.