Strawberries: The Fruits of Love

Strawberries and Champagne are the quintessential ingredients for any romantic night in. So how did this tiny fruit become a popular love staple?

There is an obvious association with love; the fruit grows in the shape of a tiny red heart. A latter version of the Aphrodite and Adonis story claims to tell the origins of the strawberry: Aphrodite was in love with the beautiful Adonis, but his love for hunting ended up being his undoing. Gored by a boar, he lay in the forests gasping his last breaths as Aphrodite rushed to his side. She poured nectar on his wounds, hoping against hope to heal him, but it was too late and her beloved mortal died in her arms. Popular myth claims that her tears mingled with his blood; as this fluid seeped into the ground, strawberries grew in their place.

aphrodite and adonis
Peter Paul Rubens, mid 1630’s. Housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There is little to support this story in the classical realm; Ovid claimed that it was the anemone flower that grew instead, but the strawberry companies have certainly thrown their support behind spreading the berry version!

The Cherokee First Nation tribe have their own version of a romantic strawberry tale: First Man and First Woman had been happily living together, but one day they started to quarrel. The disagreement went on and on until First Woman decided she had had enough and took off to the East to find the land of the sun. After a while, First Man began to miss his wife, and so he started along the path trying to find her. First Man was sad as he walked, knowing that she was far ahead. He worried that he could never catch up. The Sun saw the plight of First man and took pity on him, so he asked First Man if he really loved his wife, and if he would like some help to find her.

First Man happily agreed and so the Sun caused a giant patch of huckleberries to appear on the path in front of her, but First woman, fueled by her anger, passed them by without a second look. So the Sun tried again, and put a a giant bush of juicy blackberries along the roadside. Again the First Woman passed by. The Sun tried further, this time presenting her with luscious ripe raspberries, and blueberry bushes that hung heavy with fruit, but the First Woman kept on her path.

Finally the Sun grew strawberries beneath her feet, a brand new fruit that hadn’t existed before. First Woman saw the tiny berries, and smelled their delicate fragrance and stopped in her tracks. She plucked a bright red berry and placed it in her mouth, and as she did her anger finally began to fade. She thought about First Man, the husband she had left behind, and she began to miss him too. She gathered up as many of the berries as she could carry and hurried back down the path to find her beloved. Reunited, they shared the sweet berries, and then hand in hand walked back to their home together.

leah dorian
Strawberry Reconciliation Moon by Leah Dorion

Sometimes, the Gods and the Fates are cruel; sometimes, They are kind. Either way, if you have a loved one in your life, share a strawberry, drink some champagne, and most importantly, be grateful for the love you have…

Because strawberries can’t fix everything.

titan aphordite
Titian, Venus and Adonis, mid 1630’s, on display at the Getty Museum
strawberrymoon
A series of shots of the full moon taken from Duluth, Minnesota’s Park Point beach, described as a “strawberry moon”. Photo credit: Grant Johnson, shown on space.com

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