September 20, 2009

Apple Love, and Some Media Updates

Adam and Eve go apple-picking!

My last post was about the ominous side of apples. Today, I thought I'd share some happier lore. Sure, apples have a bad reputation in Western culture because of that incident in the Garden of Eden, but that story isn't just about sin, it's also about love. If Adam and Eve (or Steve) hadn't eaten the forbidden fruit, there'd be no love in the world!

Discovering the identity of your true love through magic was widespread in New England in the 1800's. I think some of it spread through the magazines of the time, but some may also have been brought over with the Puritans. Apples figured prominently.

To figure out if someone loves you, split open an apple and count the seeds. The number of seeds inside determines where the relationship is heading. There is a chant that goes like this:

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,
Ten he tarries,
Eleven, he courts,
Twelve he marries;
Thirteen wishes,
Fourteen kisses,
All the rest little witches.

There's another way to use apple seeds to predict love. Let's say you're romantically interested in multiple men. Take some apple seeds, and assign the name of a potential lover to each. Wet the seeds and stick them on your forehead. The one that falls off last is the person you're meant to be with.

Those are quoted in Botkin's Treasury of New England Folklore, but are originally found in William Wells Newells' Games and Songs of American Children and Alice Morse Earle's Old Time Gardens.

New England folklore has been appearing in the media lately. Today's Boston Globe has an article about George's Island, including the ghost who is supposed to haunt Fort Warren, something I wrote about a while ago.

The October 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living has a brief article about New England gravestone art. There are some nice photos of historic Massachusetts cemeteries in Haverhill, Salem and Ipswich. Martha Stewart can even make death look tasteful. I don't think the article is online, but you can see many grave stones from across New England at A Very Grave Matter.


Gordon Harris said...

You can view photos of hundreds of historic gravestones in the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich at and at

Rich Clabaugh said...

Nice post Peter! My, apples do have plenty of uses, don't they?