Walnut Legends

Legend One : Bacchus; the Greek God of Wine and Ecstacy. 

According to legend, the walnut originated when Baccus, the Greek god of wine and ecstasy, fell in love with Carya, the youngest of three daughters of Dion, king of Loconia.  When the jealous elder sisters endeavoured to prevent the two lovers from meeting, Bacchus turned them into stones and for, reasons clear only to a god, transformed his beloved into a walnut tree.

Legend Two : Romans believed eating walnuts improves fertility

Walnuts were valued by Romans for both medicinal and magical purposes. Romans considered walnuts capable of producing fecundity and began the Mediterranean custom of ceremoniously throwing walnuts at weddings.  In addition, in some parts of Italy a three-chambered walnut in ones’s pocket is still considered excellent protection from witches and lightening. Placing a walnut under a chair is said to prevent a witch from rising and can be, therefore, and excellent witch-detection device.

Legend Three : Treatment for Baldness and Toothache

During ancient and medieval times walnuts were used to treat baldness, toothache, headache, rabies and ringworm.  Pliny the Roman scholar, suggested that “Chewing a walnut [while fasting] is a sovereign remedy against the bite of a mad dog”.

Legend Four : “The Doctrine of Signatures”

The Doctrine of Signatures, central to European herbal medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, held that plant parts physically resemble parts of the human body to which they can be usefully applied. The walnut was considered a representation of the human head; the kernel represented the brain.  Therefore, walnut husk was ground and prescribed for head wounds and eating walnuts was recommended treatment for the mentally ill.  Interestingly, modern bio-chemists have found that walnuts contain very high concentrations of serotonin, a compound important for transmitting signals between neurons in the human brain.