Honey Folklore: Celebrating National Honey Month with Sweet Stories

Posted: 09/04/2023

The delectable flavor of honey has sparked people’s creativity and imagination for millenia. Around the world cultures have told stories of honey as the tears of the sun, the food of the gods and a bridge between worlds. At The Republic of Tea we take pride in selecting the best honey for tea from around the world. This National Honey Month we have collected sweet stories and legends about honey to share as well. So pour yourself a delectable mug of tea – perhaps stir in a teaspoon of our new Pumpkin Spice Honey Cream – and get ready to learn stories about honey from around the world.

Honey in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians believed that honeybees sprung into being from the tears of their sun god Ra. This association meant that bees and honey were considered sacred. Honey was even included in the lavish burial goods in the tomb of King Tutankhamun and many other famous Egyptian mummies. Hieroglyphic art shows Egyptians domesticating honeybees 4,500 years ago. Honey from these hives was used as medicine and in food. Some archeologists theorize that honey would have been used to sweeten herbal teas and other beverages at the time. So – the next time you want to take your tea like a Pharaoh, don’t forget to add some honey to your infusion.

Honey in Ancient Greece

Two of the best preserved stories we have about Ancient Greek culture are the Iliad and the Odyssey. These stories both refer to the Greek gods living on honey and honey wine. The nymph who is credited with discovering honey was named Melissa. She was given such
reverence for this delicious discovery that priestesses of the Greek deities Aphrodite, Demeter and Persephone were all called Melissae or Melissa in her honor. You may recognize that this name is still popular and widely used today. Tell this ancient story to the Melissa’s in your life and perhaps offer them a cup of tea with honey while you share.

Honey in Celtic Folklore

In Celtic folklore honeybees were thought to have the power to journey between the human world and the otherworlds. This meant that honeybees could deliver messages between the living, the dead and the gods. This gave honey and mead (a fermented drink made with honey) a place of prime importance in ceremonies. Honey was also used as medicine, to preserve foods and to sweeten beverages. The importance of honeybees and honey in Celtic culture is thought to have trickled down through the ages into the well documented practice of “telling the bees.” Beekeepers in the parts of the US and Europe impacted by Celtic culture have a long held tradition of informing their beehives about every birth, death and marriage that takes place in the household. The superstition goes that if the bees are not kept well informed they will stop producing honey or desert the hive altogether. This Celtic folklore practice of “telling the bees” is still common in some places, with a notable example being that in 2022 the Royal Beekeeper of Buckingham Palace had a ceremony to tell the bees that Queen Elizabeth II had passed.

Tea and Honey

The above are three notable examples of how people have explained and praised honey throughout the years. Almost every culture has a legendary story or two about this delectable golden sweetener. Next time you add a spoonful of honey to your tea, perhaps you’ll remember these tales of honey as the tears of the sun, the food of the gods and a bridge between worlds. This national honey month, as you swirl honey into your tea, take a moment to acknowledge the place that honey has held in people’s imaginations for centuries. Perhaps slow down and mentally thank the hard working bees who went flower to flower to make this delectable elixir for you. Hold a moment of gratitude to the ancestors who learned how to keep bees and harvest honey. Enjoy the sweetness that honey adds to your tea and your day. 

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