‘THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD GERMINATES…’: CORN – HISTORY… AND STORIES
Published in Scientific Papers. Series A. Agronomy, Vol. LVII
Written by Ionuț-Cosmin SFETCU, Elena-Loredana SFETCU, Elena NISTOR
To Europe, the concept of the New World corresponded to the human need to escape from the common, every-day habitat to a blessed realm, a land of affluence and eternal bliss. The inhabitants of the Old World were charmed by the wonders of the Americas even since the first encounter, and one of the most active and effective ways of contact and communication was food. American cuisine was an illustrative instance of commonality since turkey, duck and rabbit, corn, sunflower and beans, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes, squash, pumpkin and wild ginger, cranberries, blueberries and raspberries, all were soon adopted and adapted to suit the taste buds of the Old World. Corn, in particular, was an extremely important staple food grown not only for its nutritive value but also for its high adaptability to a variety of soils and weather conditions. However, its importance extended far beyond its immediate benefit for the original corn growers developed an entire philosophy of life centred around the plant belonging to the Poaceae family. For the original American tribes, corn was a god: it was either Father Corn or Mother Corn, and had to be paid every form of respect in order to assure the necessary food supply. Feasts and festivals, chants and songs, dances and prayers, stories and games were dedicated to every stage of the agricultural process (from sowing to harvesting), in an attempt to determine and direct reality. This paper aims to briefly introduce some of the corn-related Amerindian customs, rituals and traditions believed to help the individual experience identity with the original forces of the earth in the eternal rhythm of life.