Posted: 12 Mar 2009 04:31 PM PDT
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Irish Culture and Customs remind us that honey holds an important place in the history and traditions of the Emerald Isle:
The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore by Hilda M. Ransome (first published in 1937) explains that there’s a whole section about honey in the Brehon Laws, which date back to somewhere around 600 AD and probably much earlier — the “Bee-judgments” as the laws about beekeeping were called.
For example, under those old laws, anyone who kept bees was obligated by law to share the honey harvest with land-owners of the four adjacent farms, as that’s where the bees gathered nectar.
And if a man found a swarm in the faithche (the green surrounding and belonging to a house), three-quarters of that colony’s honey harvest at the end of the year was owed to the owner of the house. It certainly speaks to the value placed on honey!
You can read more about the Brehon Laws on a fascinating website called Library Ireland, dedicated to sharing Irish culture and folklore.
For those who’d like to enjoy their honey in Irish culture with a bit of a “kick” to it, David Lee of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations explains how to make your own mead.
The potent honey-based beverage might go nicely with this gourmet menu from the Institute of Northern Ireland Beekeepers, drawn from the old legends of County Tipperary:
If that’s a bit much, just take a page from A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland, by PW Joyce (first published in 1906), which says:
Or what about a broiled salmon steak, basted with honey, like the meal that was served by Ailill and Maive, king and queen of Connaught, to the young chief, Fraech, according to the old Irish tales. That sounds like a St. Patrick’s Day meal that would go down just fine here in New Brunswick!
Irish Honey Lore for St. Patrick’s Day comes from the Central Beekeepers Alliance of New Brunswick, Canada. For more information on Honey Bees and Beekeeping, please: * Visit http://cba.stonehavenlife.com * Subscribe to our RSS feed * Get free updates by e-mail
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