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How to predict winter weather using a persimmon seed: a curious peasant legend

2 min read

According to weather folklore, you can predict winter weather with a persimmon seed. The seeds of the persimmon, scientifically known as Diospyros kaki, are small grains of a few centimeters in length. If you find a locally-grown persimmon (a locally-grown persimmon is necessary because it will reflect local conditions!), all you have to do is cut open the seed and observe: inside the seed may appear the shape of a cutlery such as a fork, a knife or a spoon.
According to peasant tradition, the presence of cutlery was a sign that allowed people to foresee the trend of winter.

– If the kernel is spoon-shaped, expect plenty of snow to shovel.
– If it is fork-shaped, plan on a mild winter with powdery, light snow.
– If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect bitter cold and frigid winds that will “cut” like a blade.

Of course the popular predictions based on persimmon seeds were anything but based on scientific reasoning.
The persimmon seed also lends itself to other interpretations, such as the one that in Sicily wants the depiction of cutlery to be instead the “manuzza di Maria” (Maria’s hand) a detail that made the seed a sacred object, while in the Campania region the inside of the fruit was instead interpreted as a representation of Christ on the cross, a belief that generated a unique name for the Neapolitan persimmon: Legnasanta (saint wood, or something similar).

Any kind of Ptolithic meaning you want to see in the seeds of the persimmon, its goodness and its nutritional qualities made it spread in Europe starting from the mid/end of the 19th century until today, imported from China and rapidly spread in the countryside.
The persimmon tree is considered a prodigious vegetable in China, credited in the tradition of seven virtues:

– Very long plant life
– Leaves that give great shade
– The branches of the tree offer a place for nesting birds
– Not attacked by pests
– The yellow / red leaves are a lively autumnal decoration
– Wood makes an excellent fire
– The abundant foliage offers an abundant fertilizer for the plants

However, I wonder if in ancient China they would have imagined that, imported to Europe, the Cachi would have earned even an eighth virtue: the winter weather forecast!

Images from web.

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