While preparing this basket with walnuts a question popped up in my mind : why are nuts associated with the Christmas holidays?
“Nuts are a symbol of fruitfulness long associated with midwinter festivals.
During the early Roman empire the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis sent a present of them to a fellow-writer saying, “From my small garden, behold, eloquent Juvenal, I send you Saturnalian nuts. The rest of the fruit the rakish Garden God has bestowed on frolicking girls.” Romans believed each type of nut to be possessed of a special virtue: almonds were an antidote to drunkenness; walnuts counteracted poisons; hazelnuts prevented famine.
Christmas-time in many countries sees bowls of nuts on the table and nuts used in desserts. They are an indispensable part of the Thirteen Desserts of Provence; St Nicholas and his helpers throw them to children or put them with apples in their shoes.
Boys and girls throw walnuts at each other in Poland on St Stephen’s Day and in other parts of Eastern Europe nuts are thrown into corners of the house for good luck. Walnuts are a necessary component to the Bulgarian Christmas meal. Each member of the family cracks one in order to determine their fate for the next year. If the walnut is a good one, it is said that the year will be successful. Bad luck is predicted for the person who cracks a bad walnut. North American crooners sing of “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” and nuts have long been used as edible decorations on Christmas trees.“
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