Apple

story of Newton's discovery of gravity - the apple was the instrument of his enlightment). In Avalon, apples grow in profusion, and it has been suggested that the controlled eating of apples was once a mystical practice. This would explain the belief that the apple was the fruit of the Garden of Eden, through which knowledge came (though the story has made it the symbol of temptation (Leyel. 1937), for a quite different reason). The apple is also the emblem of Christ, as the new Adam, so when it appears in the hands of the original Adam it means sin, but with Christ, it symbolizes the fruit of salvation (Ferguson). It was also used to symbolize the secret of immortality. Perhaps that is why apples feature so prominently in divination games, in various ways. In what remains the best-known of these divinations, young giels would peel the apple skin off in one continuous piece and throw it over the left shoulder, whence it was hoped it would fall in the shape of a letter which would be the initial of the man they would marry. Or, as in parts of America, the peel had to be put over the door, and the first man to enter through the door would be the husband (Stout). If the peel broke, she would not marry at all (Waring). Or, as in Lancashire for instance, the peel should hang on a nail behind the door. The initials of the first man to enter the house afterwards would be the same as that of the future husband (Opie & Tatem).

The pips too can be used in these divinations. If, for instance, a girl cannot choose among several of her suitors, she should take a pip and recite one of the men's names, then drop the pip on the fire. If it pops, well and good, for it shows the man is "bursting with love for her". Of course, if it is consumed without making any sound at all, she will know the man is no good for her (Waring). The rhyme to be spoken is:

If you love me, pop and fly,

If you hate me, lay and die (Halliwell. 1869).

Another divination game involving apple pips was to take one of them between finger and thumb and to flip it into the air, while reciting "North, south, east, west, tell me where my love doth rest". You had to watch the direction in which it fell, and then draw your own conclusions (Courtney. 1887). Another way of doing it was to stick two pips on the cheek or forehead, one for the girl's choice and the other for another man who was not. The one named for the man she really wanted would stick longest, not all that difficult to manage, or to make sure the unwanted one fell first (Opie & Tatem). A Kentucky version requires five seeds on the face, named. Then the first to fall off shows the one that the girl will marry (Thomas & Thomas). Another American children's game merely involves counting the seeds to predict the future:

One I Love

Two I love

Three I love I say;

Four I love with all my heart

And five I cast away;

Six he loves

Seven she loves

Eight they both love;

Nine he comes

And ten he tarries,

Eleven he courts

And twelve he marries (Stout).

Similarly, the number of seeds found indicates the number of children you will have. Even the stalks can be used; the girl has to twist the stalk to find whom she will marry. The game is to twist while going through the alphabet, a letter for each twist. The letter she has reached when the stalk comes off is the initial of the first name of the man she will marry (Opie & Tatem). An Austrian divination involved cutting an apple in two on St Thomas's Eve (20 December) and counting the number of pips. If it was an even number, then she was soon to marry. But if she had cut one of the pips, she would have a troubled life and end up a widow (Waring).

To dream of apples means long life, success in trade, and a lover's faithfulness (Gordon. 1985). But there is a darker side of apple belief. True, it was used as a sanctuary in catching games in Somerset, but one children's rhyme is open to quite a different interpretation:

Bogey, Bogey, don't catch me!

Catch that girl in the apple tree! (Tongue).

And there are a number of death omens connected with apples. Out of season blossom is sinister. If it happens when there is fruit on the tree, it is a sign of death in the family, put into rhyme in Northamptonshire as:

A bloom upon the apple tree when apples are ripe, Is a sure termination of somebody's life (Baker. 1980).

The "somebody" being a member of the owner's family, it must be understood. Never leave a last apple on the tree, for that too would mean a death in the family. Not in Yorkshire, though, for there one must be left on, as a gift for the fairies (Baker. 1980). But if one stayed on, that was a sign of a death in the family (Gutch. 1911). It is also very unlucky to burn apple wood, in spite of its undoubted fragrance. As the tree is an ancient symbol of plenty, to destroy it might disturb the household's prosperity (Baker. 1974). Never eat an apple without first rubbing it clean, for that would constitute a challenge to the devil (Waring). Never eat an apple until they have been christened. i e not until after St Swithin's Day (15 July), when rain can be traditionally expected, to

Apple

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