The Roman goddess Ceres was in origin an ancient Greek and then Italic divinity called Demeter. She was the goddess of agriculture, the cycle of the seasons, grain crops and fertility. The ancient Romans dedicated to her an important Festival called Cerealia held from mid to late April. (from the 12th to approximately the 19th of April). The festival usually organized by the plebeian aediles and included circus games the ludi circenses and included also ludi scaenici which were theatrical religious events.
The legend says that the daughter of Ceres Persephone (Proserpina for the Romans) was picking flowers when, all of a sudden, Hades god of the Underworld, bursts out of the ground, grabs her and dragged her down to the underworld. Her mother, Demeter after hearing her daughter’s scream, tries to know what happened but nobody can tell something. So, Demeter Wanders all over the earth to look for her and the goddess is so upset and furious that Zeus has helped Hades in kidnapping her daughter that she vows that she won’t let anything grow on earth until she sets eyes on her daughter again.
A terrible famine assaults the eart, and people start starving everywhere. Seeing this, Zeus sends Hermes, the messenger god, down to the underworld to order Hades to let Persephone go. He agrees but, secretly slips some pomegranate seeds into her mouth. And when eating something while you are in the underworld, you have to stay there forever. When back on the earth, Persephone tells her mom how Hades tricked her into eating the pomegranate seeds. Demeter is totally ticked off and says that nothing will grow on earth ever again. It’s decided that Persephone only has to spend part of the year with Hades in the underworld. The number of months is different in various myths, and sometimes it relates to the number of pomegranate seeds that Persephone eats. Demeter reluctantly agrees with this, but says that when Persephone is in the underworld, nothing on earth will grow. This is where the seasons come from.
The word cereals derives from the goddess Ceres, commemorating her association with edible grains. Statues of Ceres are built on top the domes of the Missouri State Capitol and the Vermont State House serving as a reminder of the importance of agriculture in state’s economies and histories. There is also a statue of her on top of the Chicago Board of Trade Building which conducts trading agricultural commodities.