Archive for April, 2010


I’ve grown old but I’ve never forget the exquisite taste of the fairy tales. There are many motives, hear some of them…The mystery that accompanies the fairy tale, its origins, and the invariability of functions (such mystery that still exists today despite a very thorough study), enhances, in my opinion, the charm of fairy tales, perhaps especially for the adult reader, who is aware of the stratification that shines through these simple stories and is able to capture all the nuances of these narratives. A child can learn moral values, can get inspiration for his own imagination and have great fun rediscovering an old pleasure, to hear the elders of the family to tell these stories. An adult reader can instead focus on symbolic and hidden meanings of fairy tales, and so reclaim the baggage of ancient legends, common to all humanity. This is actually the most striking thing in the comparison between the collections of folk tales: the extraordinary similarity of issues and actions, as if the fairy tales were created at a time when geographical distances and national borders or ethnic groups did not exist. As everyone knows, the brothers Grimm (to whom we owe one of the finest collections of fairy tales of the eight hundred century), were, first of all, two extremely precise and noticed philologists. To proceed to the transcription of the stories, they had to visit the farthest corners of the German countryside, trying to be told by the elders, the only repositories of an ancient memory and a knowledge exclusively oral, these tales, commonly called fairy tales. In fact, originally, these were not stories for children, but the misunderstanding arose from the fact that these stories were told by the elders around the fire on winter nights, and the listeners were mostly children. The Brothers  Grimm were impressed by the fact that the elderly narrators repeated their tales always with the same words, idioms, expressions and even gestures, like in a ritual, that the sacredness of the text not allowed to alter. This makes us understand how, for these elders, who told their stories to the two philologists brothers in order to transform such knowledge from oral to written, these tales and legends were as the basis of the human memory. The mere fact that, in the nineteenth century, still existed in the civilized Germany, the cradle of Romanticism (very important factor), an exclusively oral culture, never written down and never appeared in written texts, but handed down from generation to generation, is a fact worthy of great consideration. In fact, even today, I think that my grandmother knew the same stories that I know and the same fairy tales that my grandchildren in turn will listen: is inherent in the profound nature of the fairy tale’s character to be as a chain to tie together the memory of the past and future generations, by means of undying and magic symbols.

 Another particularly interesting thing, as reported by two brothers, is that very often, even the elderly narrators did not understood, sometimes, the deep meaning of what they were telling. This, together with the constant repetition and precise details and forms of the tales, leads to the conclusion that the origin of the tale is ancient and mysterious, that the magical tales, whose heroes are princes and princesses, but also animals and fairies or witches or ogres, all having supernatural powers, are a phenomenon that dates back to the prehistory of mankind. The word “fairy tale” (from the Latin “fabula”) conjures a magical and mysterious world, where spells and magic are common, everyday, and that almost always means that you accept the strangest things that happen, without asking why or without being verily surprised by them. A fairy tale is a complete unit, with a hero and a happy ending: these are the universal characters, common to all the tales of the Brothers Grimm’s collection. The evolving story of the hero follows a trend opposite to that of the tragic hero: in the beginning, the protagonist has a very low social status, is despised by all and mocked for his lack of skills and talent, or it is a princess very unhappy and solitary, unloved by their parents or targeting ominous wedding. In any case, the protagonist, at the beginning of the tale, is always in very disadvantageous conditions and everyone expects that his/her destiny is already sealed or expects his/her complete failure or even a terrible death.

Though in the end the hero always triumphs, his route to complete victory is not without struggles, in which is always questioned his final success, as are opposed to him, not only natural difficulties (such as icebergs or barriers of flames), but also supernatural powers, like witches and wizards, evil men and ultimately human characters who hate him or threaten him, as stepmothers, jealous brothers etc. In many cases it is certain that the hero would fail the test, but he is helped by good and very great powers, which give instructions to him on how to resolve his tests or even they carry out actions that the protagonist would not be able to do by his only efforts. In addition to his own ability, then the hero always needs the help of luck. This aid, however, is not accidental nor fortuitous: it depends on his good character and his actions. The tale ends with the triumph of justice, the so-called happy ending: not only the good ones are rewarded, but also the bad ones suffer just punishment for their misdeeds. Surely, this is one of the features that make these stories popular among children: even though the fascination of fear plays an important role, the children are aware that in every story, at the end, the good fairy will help the princess, the young hero will defeat all his enemies and all will live happily forever. Probably this is also one of the reasons why adults do not get tired reading stories to their children: after all, it’s nice to imagine a world where justice will prevail and the good is always victorious. This constant “happy ending” that characterizes all of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales is, in a sense, the common basis of all folktales, worldwide. In all, the main character, good and helpless, after being the victim of a  stronger and more fierce opponent, often with great magical powers, escapes the dangers and oppression of his pursuer and won the prize of his nobility, generosity, truthfulness and justice. Above all, the clearest proof of how the fairy tales have ancient origins, it is the brief analysis of a famous fairy tale from the collection by the Brothers Grimm. There is certainly a deep relationship that binds the narrative of fairy tales with epic and chivalrous poems, and this relationship is still very mysterious, for the moment, one cannot say for sure that fairy tales are derived from the chivalric epic and medieval courts, but one can certainly assert their undoubted kinship. This, to me, is one of the most fascinating aspects of fairy tales, that provide endless material for thought for the scholars and, at the same time, entertain adults and children.

Read the article about the tale “The two brothers”:

http://hubpages.com/hub/The-charm-of-fairy-tales-an-introduction-to-the-Brother-Grimms-work-part-two

Here is a species in which we can find many varieties, all equally beautiful and delicate;
personally, I love greatly the waterlilies and, if not against the most elementary rules of garden design, I would cover the entire surface of a lake, large or small, with these incredible flowers. As you know, the waterlilies can grow in conditions of high, medium and low deep of the water, but care must be taken to choose the right model of flower, suitable for each situation. All waterlilies have floating leaves and the flowers are all of great beauty and charm, closely resembling the lotus of the East regions. I love greatly the water plants, they are so incredible: most terrestrial plants cannot tolerate having their roots submerged in wet soil or in water, but, for these water plants, these conditions are beneficial, even vital, to their survival. The waterlilies have a wide range of colors, shapes and fragrances, they bloom from the early summer until the first frosts of winter, creating very pleasant spots of colorful flowers, floating gently on the water surface. The hardy waterlilies can survive a cold winter climate, their only requirement is that they must be protected from a hard freeze during winter. All waterlilies are day blooming, their flowers open in the early morning and then close in mid to late afternoon.

All waterlilies are widely used for decoration of garden ponds and, in my opinion, there are really necessary to create a water garden of great charm and grace. Most are white or pink, though a few are reddish in color, certain species are very small, miniature even, but others are very large and can be so rampant as to overtake a natural pond in few years. Some waterlilies even change color as the flower ages: most of these blossoms start light yellow, mature to a reddish-orange over the next few days and, finally, reach a darker red for the last day before fading completely.

All species of water lilies that I will mention in the article, have the following common features: all tolerate the climatic conditions of the zones 5-9, all require a position constantly exposed to sunlight and, above all, stagnant water.

-Plants for shallow-water

Because of their size, very small, dwarf or pygmy waterlilies are ideal for plants grown in shallow water (15-45 cm). Some of them are real pygmy waterlilies, other are smaller versions of traditional waterlilies. The dwarf and pygmy waterlilies should be grown in baskets or planted directly in the soil of the pond. Must have constant sunlight and the water, as for all species of waterlilies, is to be stagnant. The water depth varies by species, and then I show you the depth needed for every variety of flower. In most cases, the width of the plant corresponds to a time, or one and a half, the depth at which it grows.

To read the whole article, please go to my blog:

http://varenyasgarden.blogspot.com/2010/04/waterlilies-beauty-of-lake.html

Elefsina is located on the Saronikos Gulf towards the SE of the mainland, 24km from Piraeus. The first time I saw this place, I was horrified by what I saw: gargantuan-sized gas works, steel works, cement works, oil distilleries, all found within metres of what looked like residential zones. Dust flew everywhere, piling on the side of the road like mud, especially outside the cement works. No one wore masks; no one seemed to care that they were inhaling dust. I tried to see the hidden beauty of this land, but the horrors of the modern men makes it very difficult: one must have the ability to see the past, or have great imagination, to recover the lost splendour of the Thriasian Plain and the city, once called Eleusis, now Elefsina in modern greek.
Elefsina was one of Ancient Greece’s most sacred towns, about 20 km NW of Athens, but it’s since become a byword for air and sea pollution. Elefsina, though, is spearheading efforts to clean up the country’s coastline. The region around Elefsina was recently identified as one of the most endangered areas of the Mediterranean (as for example: Elefsina currently is the city with the highest ever officially recorded temperature in Europe of 48.0 °C ). It is curious: this place was in antiquity, one of the most fertile and pleasant valleys of the whole Greece, it used to be an agricultural and cattle-breeding area; but it is also the largest plain in Attic, the closest to the capital and with a splendid position near the sea, with a vast bay and easy links  with some other important places, such as Corinth, the whole Peloponnesus and the Aegean islands.

After its glorious past in ancient times, for a long period, the city of Elefsina fell into oblivion: during the period of Turkish domination it was almost uninhabited and a few years before the establishment of the Greek state it is mentioned as a small fish -village. In the year 1860 it seems that the history of the contemporary city began by the settlement of merchants, the construction of a railway track (1884) and the opening up of Corinth Isthmus.

 The installation of the soap-making factory of Charilaou (1875), the cement industry TITAN (1902), the distilleries VOTRYS (1906) and KRONOS (1922) meant the industrialization of the city while, in 1938 the first pollution of Elefsina bay from oil transported for the industrial needs was noticed. The needs of the industries for labour force create successive waves of domestic migration.
The settlement of 2.000 Greek refugees from Asia Minor in 1922 is followed by the population blow-up of 50’s by the settlement of inhabitants of Epirus, Chios, Dodecanese, Corfu and later on (1960) of Crete and repatriated Greeks from the Black Sea. By the simultaneous installation of many big and small industries, Elefsina changed completely its form. Presently, refineries, steel mills, cement factories, shipyards, ammunition industry, 2000 smaller industries, handicrafts and commercial business are operating in the broader area.  Although the natural environment has been spoiled from industrialization, in the last years, by a number of interventions, the atmospheric and sea pollution in Elefsina bay has been slightly reduced. The Elefsina Bay, a medium-sized port, is one of the most industrialised and environmentally degraded areas in Greece. The quality of life and economic development in the bay’s communities suffer from pollution and hazards from port and industrial activities, as well as from an uncontrolled urbanisation that has limited the communal spaces and constrained the access to the sea. The situation in Elefsina is typical of many other industrial port and urban areas in Greece, South-eastern Europe and the EU in general.
The region’s dominant problem, which brought about the most serious environmental problems is the presence of many industries. In the region operate over 3000 industrial and craf-based installations, from which, some of the biggest industries of the country, such as: two oil refineries (Hellenic Petroleum S.A., Petrola Hellas S.A.), two steel industries (Hellenic Halyvourgia, Halyvourgiki S.A.), two cement industries (TITAN, Halyps Cement-Italcementi Group), an ammunition industry (PYRKAL), two shipyards, ship scrapping installations, a commercial harbour (as well as a roadstead, where vessels can lie at anchor), establishments of petrol products storage and processing, three fossil fuel processing units, one paper processing industry, scrap units, chemical industries and pits. Besides that, there is also the forthcoming operation of the gigantic new cargo facilities and railway station of Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE). Air is also highly polluted, due to the industrial activity, fossil fuel consumption and traffic circulation, the costal zone pollution is the top-ranking environmental problem and another problem is traffic congestion and noise pollution, due to heavy vehicles circulation, like lorries or busses:  the noise pollution is considered as a very serious environmental problem.

The industries operation have turned the Thriasio Pedio to a particularly polluted area ( air/ sea/ ground/ underground water pollution), in fact Elefsina is the town where the majority of crude oil in Greece is imported and refined. After the end of the war, but also of the civil tragedy that follows it, Elefsina enters definitely into the course of industrialisation. Its geographic situation and its harbour favoured the development of any kind of economic activities. Thus, apart from the old industries that are now modernized, new factories are established in the town area. In 1953 the steel factory starts functioning. In 1955 the oil factory is built and few years’ later smaller factories like the ice factory and the shipyard Savvas are founded. Athens’s nearest military airport is a few kilometers east of Elefsina. It has been used since the mid-20th century. Its runway is about 2 km and its buildings are to the west. It sits in the Thriasian/Eleusina Plain.
However, the concentration of so many factories in the town and in the wider area of Thriasio Pedio,where so many industries are in function, has catastrophic results on the environment. The air and water pollution has negative consequences also on the population’s health. The strong protests and oppositions of the inhabitants result in remediate measures and in a small reduction of the pollution.

Water pollution
Aquatic areas can naturally remove a certain amount of pollution by dispersing it harmlessly.
The marine pollution in both Saronikos Bay and Elefsina has been reduced since biological treatment of industrial waste has taken place. However, measurements  showed that there are still many chemical substances which disrupt the normal life of sea creatures.
Western Attica wetlands have an inestimable value. Yet ignorance of the state destroys them daily. Until a few years ago, the wetlands were “undervalued” by the local communities and state. As a result today the Lake Koumoundourou, near the Elefsina Bay, has very significant problems: air and ground pollution, industrial plant and fuel tanks, which come from the industries of Thriasio Pedio. The problems’ aspects are so dangerous and threatening, that each environmental measure must be regarded as a matter of great urgency. Earth is slowly dying, while flora, fauna, air and water have been seriously wounded both in quality and quantity.

Koumoundourou Lake (Lake of ancient Rheitoi)
The lake is fed by the water from the springs of mount Parnes; the surface of the lake is about 143.000 m2. One important characteristic of the lake is the constant discharge of a fresh, unpolluted water source on the north side, which keeps the oxygen level constant and improves the quality in general. As a natural environment the lake has mixed water due to mixing with the sea at percentages of 60–40 %. The lake Koumoundourou has great interest both as an important wetland and a historic site. At the lake have been recorded by the Greek Ornithological Society 50 bird species including: the world’s threatened Ferruginous Duck, the pintail, the Northern Shoveler, the wigeon, the pochard etc.
The ancient lakes Rheitoi were dedicated to the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The ancient Sacred Way met the ancient Rheitoi. Lake Koumoundourou is classified as a historic site since 1974.
Lake Koumoundourou has a long history of pollution, but also a great historical value in the area of the prefecture of Attica with its capital at Athens. Nowadays the installation of the large refinery of “ELPE”, the oil tanks of “Elinoil”, and the military depot have created a very adverse situation for the lake’s environment. Leaks and spills from the oil refinery and depots polluted the lake to the extent that almost no life could be observed in the environment.

 After the intervention of the Agricultural University of Athens the level of the lake was raised by 20 cm and the additional pressure functioned as a barrier preventing large quantities of pollutants from entering the lake. Nevertheless a huge contamination still took place. This small lake is in the vicinity of the national road, the camp AVEK 871 that supplies with fuel and oils the majority of the Greek army, the ELDA, as well as with an important amount of fuel tanks belonging to private companies. This wetland has been disordered and is close to extinction unless efforts for its protection take place, such as protection from the intense industrial development in the area, as well as limitation in the licks of the underground fuel reservoirs. Works of infrastructure shall also be done in order to collect the rainwater that rinses out the national road ending in the lake, as well as to collect the contaminants from the use of detergents, dissolves and oil at the AVEK camp.

Lake Koumoundourou has been polluted by toxic chemical substances, which are by 10 times greater than maximum safety levels. Also, underground pollution from the neighbouring waste disposal center further pollutes the Lake. Underwater pollution from highly dangerous industrial pollutants is also significant. Additionally, pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural activities further deteriorate the situation. Moreover, the absence of modern water supply and sewerage treatment networks in the whole area and their consequent uncontrolled disposal in the environmentally sensitive Eleusis Bay had resulted in Greece’s condemnation from the Court of Justice of the European Communities [Decision of the 24th of June 2004 (Case C-119/02)]. The same happened [Decision of April 2005 (Case C-163/03)] due to the lack of infrastructure in the sector of dangerous waste management and their disposal at Eleusis Bay.

 

The wetland ecosystems are very rich and productive, with multiple values. The 23 remaining wetlands in Attica, which compose a network of highly important places for the migration and wintering birds, are under a considerable pressure and even threatened with extinction. Blatant example, the lake Koumoundourou.
The Koumoundourou Lake, a lake that was an ancient place of worship, is an example of obsolescence and indifference, in many ways. It has the “misfortune” to be in the Western region of Attica, a strife-torn region, although of great archaeological interest, that has been condemned to endure a toxic death. This lake has been polluted by oil spills and leaks from both the refinery and the military depot, containing large amounts of different petroleum extracts. In addition, the aquifer has also been polluted by an underground pipe connecting these two installations as well as by percolated surface pollutants and leaks from the refinery tanks.
The lake is seen on the road Athens -Corinth. It was once a sacred place, now struggling to live among oil tanks, military facilities, heavy industries and a lot more “threatening” neighbors. In ancient times there were two pools: both lakes had been preserved until the 19th century and featured two water mills. Until the 1950s both lakes were natural fish reserves.

The large lake, the northern, Kephalari, was drained in the early ’50s and was backfilled during the construction of the oil refinery at Aspropyrgos. Its place is today marked by a swamp. Then, only one lake is left, a part of which has been drained to build the highway. The strange is that this ecosystem is under protection: since 1974 has been declared an archaeological site and the lake, and 50 meters around the area, is designated as suburban park!
Despite all the pressures and threats, the lake stands up and offers residency and relaxation to many species of birds!
Residents of surrounding areas have responded and defended the lake. Required by the state be interested in this, the release of several times the wire which kept “imprisoned” and stressed the significance and cultural value. Brought close to schools, awareness and continue to raise awareness through discussions and events, so that no one else lost this paradise. As if that were not enough already acute problems before 1.5 year (then) Ministry of Development had the ‘famous’ idea to carry oil tanks in Perama camp on the shores of the lake, but also to build a road junction in this area. There were many reactions because it is so important that this small lake be saved from destruction: the lake has to live and live, as some people claim and require breath in an already troubled Thriasio Plain.

>Some informations taken from greek sites:

– From the Department of Defense we learn that:
The lake is subject to the provisions of Military Security (with laws from 1936 to 1953).
The visit of the lake can be done by informing the administration of the camp.
Visitors are required to surrender their identity at the gate of the camp.

– From the Ministry of Culture, we learn that:
Approved Environmental Study Update the lake (F1/12/56/25-1-2005) .
Visiting schools are free to visit all archaeological sites, but the responsible to answer for Lake Koumoundourou is the Defense ministry.
2.3 Our demand for more frequent and more intensive audits on its own and modern means of OP control of air and groundwater pollution (oil spills, leachate from landfills) is also required for another reason. Lake Koumoundourou declared other than historical site (1974) valuable wetland.
Basically, it is foundamental the reopening of the access to the lake.
Collective action brings results. The dozens of signs prohibiting the entrance of the lake are now inactive. Their existence, suggest rather the need to conceal the pollution, despite the military character of the area given that it is also an archaeological site.

-To protect the Lake Koumoundourou must:
* Stop the aboveground and underground pollution of the lake, the control of neighboring industries (mainly Hellenic Petroleum Aspropyrgos, landfills, etc.) and take immediate and strong measures of protection (decontamination, measurements, etc.).
* To become a site visited so that the citizens can assess its value.

>Wetlands of Attica: oases of life with an uncertain future
(Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at the bookstore IANOS)
This year’s celebration of World Day of wetlands: the remaining wetlands in Athens have to face serious problems. The hundreds of wetlands in Greece is the most valuable ecosystems in the country. Nevertheless, the year we passed the Greek Ornithological Society received more than thirty-five complaints related to degradation of wetlands in Greece.
The protection and conservation of wetlands in Athens is vital – aesthetic, emotional, scientific and economic – for everyone. These areas are of particular value because of their proximity to urban yoke of Athens. They perform a variety of valuable ecological functions: support a great variety of life, retain the rain water, rich with this aquifer, but also ensure a balanced change.
The threats and pressures facing wetlands today around Athens have led to severe degradation, and thus degrade the quality of life. Poorly designed flood control projects, oil tanks, off plan construction, illegal hunting, extensive polders are just a few of the growing threats to wetlands listed in Attica.
In conjunction with citizens and volunteers who care about the location and environment of Attica present the priceless value of these wetlands to Attica, the problems they face are urgent and deep, still they propose solutions to preserve them as “oases of life in urban landscape”.
”People react and fight to protect these wetlands, as the Agency for Protection and the VOURKARI Movement to save the lake Koumoundourou. Furthermore, twelve of the most important wetlands in the country are monitored regularly by volunteers of the Ornithological Society.”
This, in antiquity, the sacred lake of Persephone, is the modern battlefield, where an unequal struggle unfolds. On one side stands the ruinous industries and political giant and on the other, battling defender, the natural world of the lake. In this semantic specialty, ‘guerrilla Lake’, the world of wetland are armed only with the ability of survival. The birds and the lake try againto resist to the toxic war. Not protected by any modern law, just struggling to survive in a place that is canceled in the minds of sophisticated Athenians.

((only some photos are taken by me, the others are kindly provided by this blog:
http://limnik.blogspot.com/))

In these days, as the persistence of the sun in the sky increases, the days are getting longer and the air is warm and fragrant, the pansies are blooming in my garden.
The spectacle of their bloom and their colors, all different and equally amazing, are adding a touch of grace and joy throughout the whole garden. It is a joy to watch them bloom every year, so I could not avoid writing an article for praise them, telling their botanical characteristics, their origin in ancient legends and myths and their various and great medicinal properties .

It is an herbaceous plant, annual, and it has a small root. The stem can reach 40 cm in height and is very simple, covered by tiny hairs, almost invisibles. The leaves are oval in shape. The flowers are brought individually by a thin stem. The corolla has five petals, their color is highly variable, it can go from blue to purple (all combinations are indeed possible: yellow, gold, orange, purple, violet, red, white, and even black very dark purple, many with large showy face markings. A large number of bicoloured flowers have also been produced). These aren’t small blossoms you have to strain to see. Pansy flowers are huge and held high above the plant, like colorful little faces looking at you.
Finally, the fruit is an oval-shaped capsule, and when it reaches maturity, it opens in three parts that contain many brown seeds. It grows naturally in meadows and cultivated fields. It is often cultivated for its beautiful and striking colors. When cultivated, one must choose a limestone and clay ground, well fertilized and exposed to the sun only for few hours in a day, because this flower prefers the shadows.  
It should be watered abundantly in spring and scatter the watering in summer to suspend almost all in the autumn and winter. Growing pansies could be very successfully during fall and winter. Experts recommend to sow seed indoors in mid-summer, six to eight weeks before transplanting. The pansies can be transplanted into the garden once the summer heat has been broken and cooler weather arrives. It does not fear the frost of the winter, for this reason it is a plant that is also widespread in the wild. Protect your pansies during cold weather by temporarily allowing them to wilt. The dry leaves are not damaged by cold; they recover nicely when warmer temperatures appear. But if the soil is frozen while dry, with frigid winds howling across the leaves, the roots of the pansy plants will be unable to transport water back to the leaves. For this reason, keep beds thoroughly mulched with at least two inches of a living organic mulch during the winter. In fact, that’s the real secret of pansies: the only time they won’t grow well is in the hottest months of summer, generally July and August. So if you plant them early in September, you have a chance of enjoying an amazing ten months of bloom, especially if we have a mild winter.


The pansy must be harvested when blooming in spring; the parts used for medicinal purposes are the flowers. When harvested, it must be cut close to the ground, removing any leaves and woody parts. The flowers must be provided to dry in the shade, in thin layers. The dried flowers should be stored in paper or canvas bags.

The pansies are used as an expectorant and emollient in respiratory diseases, especially those due to phlegm, but the most important property of these flowers is that of purifying the skin. Some researchers have reported the utility in case of acne, eczema and pimples, and even the milk crust of childrens. I read that the pansy has also a diuretic and slightly laxative property. The better exploitation of its virtues need a contemporary interior and exterior treatment with infusions and skin applications. 

Tells the myth that the young Attis, Prince of Asia Minor, dying, gave birth to the pansies from his blood. Desperate for his death, his betrothed, Atta, took her own life and also from her blood sprang other pansies; those born from the blood of Attis are the pansies with reddish petals, while all other varieties grew from the blood of Atta. In the imperial Rome it was celebrated the cult of Attis, and his feast day, March 22, was called “dies violae” the day of the Pansy.
In greek, the pansy is called “ion”. Ion was the founder of the ancestry of the Ions; one day after the hunt, he came on the river Alpheus where the Ioniades, the nymphs of pansies, offered him a crown of yellow pansies as a symbol of human and divine kingship. These flowers, among the Greeks, were always called “flowers of Ionia”. The Athenians, the Ionian race, had a particular fondness for the pansy, Pindar also called Athens “City crowned with violets”, crowned by the sacred flower which gives kingship and power.

Even in England this flower has always been loved, by the Celts and even during the Middle Ages: it is said that the Knights of the Round Table consulted the pansy to know their fate by interpreting the number and arrangement of rays from the center of the flower: seven lines (a lucky amount) meant constancy in love, while more meant fickleness and even disappointment in affairs of the heart.

The legend of the pansy says the flower was originally white but turned bright purple where it was pierced by Cupid’s arrow. It’s said that you can see a loved one in the face of a pansy. Even the flower’s named is derived from the French pensee, meaning thought, reflecting the flower’s reputation for bringing thoughts of loved ones. Shakespeare clearly understood the meaning of the flower when, in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” , he wrote that the sleeping Titania will fall in love with the first creature she will see when she will awake, thanks to the pansy juice on her eyes (“the juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid, will make a man or woman madly dote (fall in love) upon the next live creature that it sees.”. The pansy is also known as Heart’s Ease, for it was believed that carrying the flower would ensure the love of your sweetheart.  
The pansy was one of the ingredients in a Celtic love potion, because the pansy was supposed to have magical love powers. The petals, being heart-shaped, were thought to cure the broken hearts of the lovers.
According to a german legend, the pancy once had a wonderful and strong scent. People came from miles to smell the flowers. By doing this, the people destroy the grass around the pansies. The pansy prayed to the Gods for help because the feed for the cattle was being destroyed. So the Gods took away its loveable scent, but gave it great beauty instead. The pansy is associated with the St. Valentine’s Day and has long been exchanged by lovers. According to a legend, the pansies should not be picked while the dew is upon them, for that would cause the death of a loved one. The pansy should never be picked in the middle of a spell of fine weather, or it is said that the rain will surely soon return. Oddly enough, to dream of this otherwise delightful little flower is said to forecast an unpleasant experience or misunderstanding with someone of the slumberer’s own sex.

To read the whole article, with many recipes, curiosities and many photos of my garden:

http://varenyasgarden.blogspot.com/2010/03/pansy-curiosities-and-insights.html