Almond Tree – “The winter bride”
Dressed in white, it is often called “the winter bride”. It is the first tree to blossom during the cold months of winter, announcing therefore the arrival of spring. The best time to admire the blossomed almond trees is mid-January and February. During these two months the nature’s beauty is richly rewarding and offers vivid memories to all visitors.
If you see pink blossoms it means you are looking at sweet almond, which is used for pastries. White colour indicates bitter almond, which is used in soft drinks, some kinds of liqueurs as well as aromatherapy. The fruits of the almond tree are extremely nutritious and are consumed in various ways: they can be eaten raw or roasted and coated in honey (mantoles) or used in traditional sweets such as soutzioukkos, dachtyla (ladies’ fingers), or as a cordial drink (soumada) or as almond spoon sweet, marzipan and almond paste.
According to the Greek mythology, Phyllis, a beautiful princess from Thraki (Greece) fell in love with Theseus’ son, Dimofontas. The two young people met when the boat of the young Athenian Dimofontas was returning from Troy. They got married, but after a while the young Athenian missed his homeland and wanted to return. Phyllis couldn’t bear seeing him sad, so she let him go back thinking that Dimofontas would return if he really loved her.
Phyllis being so much in love, was left alone waiting for her chosen one for years until she withered and hung herself from a tree. The tree held her soul and since then it has not shed its leaves or blossomed again. Once with the snow of January, the son of Theseus returned. As soon as he learned about the tragic loss of his beloved princess, he went to the tree and hugged it, which then began to produce tender leaves and flowers. The soul of the princess felt joy with the return of Dimofontas but did not take her human form again. It remained a tree and every year in January, it is decorated with white flowers.
Thus, the almond tree became a symbol of hope, showing that love cannot be defeated by death.