(adapted from www.mythman.com) Ceres was the Goddess of corn and harvest. Her daughter, named Proserpine, was her only child from her union with Jupiter (Zeus), the king of the gods.
One day, as Proserpine picked flowers with her friends, Pluto, the king of the underworld and ruler of the dead, saw her and fell madly in love with her. Riding a chariot pulled by four black horses, Pluto grabbed Proserpine and dragged her down into the underworld with him.
Hearing her daughter’s scream, Ceres rushed to help her, but she was too late. Ceres searched the entire earth for her daughter. Once she realized that Pluto had abducted Proserpine, she became angry and caused the earth to dry up, and the harvests to fail. Jupiter saw from the heavens that the earth was barren and dead. He decided to intervene, and eventually a deal was made: Proserpine would spend half of the year with her mother and half of the year in the underworld with Pluto.
According to this myth, Ceres is so sad while Proserpine is in the underworld that she withdraws her gifts from the world and winter comes. In the spring, when Proserpine rejoins her mother, Ceres makes things grow again.