The unsanitary act of plunging face-first into cold water for some fall fruit was originally about falling in love and predicting the future. Sorf of.
History has it that when the Romans conquered Britain, they brought with them an apple tree – a representation of Pomona, the ancient Roman goddess of fruit trees. Pomona is also representational of fertility and love. Supposedly, a festival was held each year on the first of November in celebration of her goddess-ness. The combination of the Celts’ belief that the pentagram was a symbol for reproduction along with Pomona’s fertility powers is what gave birth to the game.
Cut an apple in half and a pentagram is exposed with seeds located at each tip within the remnants of the apple’s stamen (the male part of the apple blossom). The pentagram holds several religious implications, and in Celtic tradition, the pentagram symbolizes fertility.
It was believed that if one was able to effectively pull an apple out of the water with their teeth they would be able to “see” their future husband or wife, and the first to pull an apple would also be the first to be married.
Apples are placed in a large bucket of water and bobbers try to remove them by only using their mouth. Their floating capabilities come from the large amount of air contained within, and the waxy skins that ensure the air’s containment. Their slick skins feed the difficulty level of grasping and biting down on one and, Pomona forbid, if one becomes too aggressive with their bobbing, pushing down too hard on the apple warrants a face full of water. Technique, people.