Friday, 20 April 2012

The History of Honey

ByBrenda L Hopkins

Many people have seen honey or eaten honey at sometime in their life, but what many people don't know is the history behind honey. Honey collection began almost 8,000 years ago according to ancient cave paintings. The cave paintings depict people carrying gourds or baskets to collect the honey from wild bee hives. Even the ancient Egyptians knew of this sweet nectar. They used it to sweeten cakes and biscuits and added it to many other dishes. They also used honey in the embalming process and as an offering to the fertility God Min.

In ancient Rome honey is well documented in many cook books as a sweetener in many dishes. The Chinese practiced the art of beekeeping and the practice is well documented in the book "Golden Rules of Business Success". In the book Fan Li mentions the importance of the wooden box for good tasting honey. Honey was also widely used by the Mayans for both culinary and religious purposes.

Honey has played a role in many religions over time. In Hinduism honey is regarded as one of the five elixirs of immortality. In Jewish tradition honey is a symbol for the New Year and eaten at the traditional meal to bring a sweet New Year, in fact the Hebrew bible contains many references to honey. The most famous of these is found in the book of Exodus where is describes the Promised Land "flowing with milk and honey". Oddly enough honey is considered kosher even though it is produced from a non kosher animal.

In Buddhism honey plays an integral role in the festival of Madhu Purnima. This day commemorates Buddha, it is said that he made peace with his disciples by going in to the wild. While in the wild a monkey gave him some honey to eat. This is remembered by giving the gift of honey to the monks, this gift is well depicted in Buddha's art. It is also referenced in Islam as well, the Prophet Muhammad recommend it for healing purposes, and the Qur'an promotes it as a healthy food full of life giving properties.

Most all religions make some reference to honey at some point perhaps due to its healing properties. Honey has been found in the tombs in Egypt and is said to be the one food on Earth that will never spoil. Many cultures believe it to be good for use on cuts, rashes, and burns. It is also said to help with sore throats and coughs as well as a cure for the hiccups. Honey has been called the nectar of the Gods and for good reason, it is mentioned in so many religious texts that it may very well be just that.

Brenda Hopkins writes for 84 Country Store about Lake Wallenpaupack and gives travel advice.

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