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Honey In Rituals And Myths:
Honey Used In Death Rituals
Honey Used In Birth Rituals
Honey In Traditions, Customs And Superstitions
Honey In The Bible
Honey Used In Wedding Ceremonies
Honey And Bees Documented In Exultet Rolls
Honey In Religion
Honey And Miscellaneous Proverbs Myths
Honey In Poetry, Symblolism, Expressions And Names
Honey And Creation Of The Dog
Honey Myth - The Saving Of The Cattle
Honey Myth - The Reanimation Of The Dead
Honey Myth - The Production Of Steel
Honey Myth - The Origin Of Beer
Honey Myth - The Kalevala
Honey In Mythologies
American Honey Folklore
Honey - Marriage
"Und suss wie der Honig
In nuptial ceremonies and in the matrimonial lives of most ancient nations and of many of the primitive races to this day, honey has played just as important a rôle as in birth-rites. In Egypt, honey was considered such an essential substance that in every marriage contract the bridegroom had to promise to supply his bride yearly with a definite amount of honey. When the nuptial knot was tied, the bridegroom said, "I take you for my wife and bind myself to furnish you annually with twenty-four hins (32 pounds) of honey" (Brugsh). During Hindu wedding ceremonies honey offering was an important function. The bridegroom kissed the bride and said: "This is honey, the speech of my tongue is honey, the honey of the bee is dwelling in my mouth and in my teeth dwells peace." During the course of the services the bride's forehead, mouth, eyelids, ears and genitals were anointed with honey. In Bengal, the Brahmans believed that if the bride's pudenda were covered with honey it would produce fertility. When the Dekan Hindu bridegroom called on the bride, honey and curds were offered to him with the object of scaring away evil spirits. The Hindu firmly believed that honey had the magic power to ward off demoniacal spirits, so much feared during marriage ceremonies.
We find similar customs among African natives. In Galla-land, a country bordering on Abyssinia, honey was an important food and a principal commodity of trade. Before a wedding the Galla bridegroom had to bring a fair quantity of honey to the intended bride. If the amount were unsatisfactory, the bride and her family rejected him as a future husband. The Galla women have the reputation of being the most independent among the women of Eastern Africa.
In Morocco, the wedding guests are offered honey before the ceremonies. During the nuptial rites no honey is used because it is reserved for the cult of the dead. After the wedding the groom feasts on honey to which also the Moroccans attribute a powerful aphrodisiac effect. The nuptial supper of a Roman couple consisted of milk, honey and poppy-juice.
On the European continent among the Greeks, Nordic, Germanic, and Slavic races honey had an important function before, during and after wedding festivities. The Poles sang a song at weddings: "Diligent is the life on a farm, like the life of the bee, and marriage is sweet as honey." When a Polish bride reached her home after the ceremonies, she was led three times around the fire-place, her feet were washed and when she entered the bridal chamber she was blindfolded and honey was rubbed on her lips. In Hungary the bride baked honey cake during full moon and gave it to the groom to secure his love. During the celebration of marriages the young couples were fed with honey by wise women. This was supposed to sweeten their wedded life. In Croatia the parents of the bridegroom await him at the threshold of the house with a pitcher of honey. The container must not be made of glass.
When the groom appears he asks his mother what is in the pitcher. The answer is: "My son, it contains my honey and thy good will." When the bride enters the house she is offered by her mother-in-law a spoonful of honey. The spoon is several times withdrawn but finally with a sudden dash is put into her mouth. The bride is given, besides, a nosegay and a cup of honey. While the bride walks around the house she spreads honey over each threshold and door. In Dalmatia and Herzegovina there is the same custom; even the wedding ring is dipped into honey during the ceremonies. In Slovakia, milk and honey; in Silesia, cooked barley and honey; in Bulgaria, bread and honey are given to the bride. The Bulgarians offer a special soup to the bridal couple, called okrap, which is made from wine and honey. The wedding cake baked with honey is broken over the head of the bridegroom and some honey is rubbed on his face. The woman who anoints the groom exclaims: "Be fond of each other as the bees are fond of this honey." In Serbia, Albania, Rumania and Turkey similar customs prevail, especially among the gipsy tribes.
During Swedish wedding festivities honey was liberally used. According to ancient records in 1500, when the daughter of a wealthy Swede, named Krogenose, was married, half a ton of honey was consumed. In 1567, during the wedding feast of Sigrid Sture, 453 jars of honey were used. The Finns also did justice to honey and, more so, to honey drinks.
In modern Greece some of the ancient customs still persist. When the bride arrives at the groom's cottage, his mother stands waiting at the door with a jar of honey of which the bride must partake that the words of her lips may become sweet as honey. The remaining contents of the jar are smeared on the lintel of the door, that strife may never enter the home. In Rhodes, when the groom arrives in his new home, he dips his finger into a cup of honey and traces a cross on the door.
In Brittany, Westphalia and Lincolnshire the betrothals are announced to the bees and the hives are decorated with red or white ribbons; part of the wedding cakes are placed before them and the new couples must introduce themselves to the bees, other-wise their married life would surely be unlucky.
In Hungary, where honey always was an important food, the production had fallen off considerably after the World War. The town of Kecskemét decided that every newly married couple should receive from the municipality a beehive and a swarm of bees as a wedding present to encourage apiculture. (If one—or both—of the contracting parties were stung, the city fathers may also be blamed for it.)
We could not very well close this chapter without reflecting on the meaning of a popularly used term, honeymoon. Some philologists (probably with conjugal experiences) have suggested that this sweetest period of wedlock was compared with the moon be-cause as soon as this celestial body reaches a full phase it commences to wane, not unlike the affection of wedded couples. Others have thought that the allusion stems from the ancient custom whereby the bride and groom were wont to eat honey and drink mead during the first four weeks of their married life. That a honeymoon is not necessarily "sweet" can be adjudged from Hood's poem:
"The moon, the moon, so silver and cold,