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Love, honey and St. Valentine

Today is Valentine's Day, and as much as many think of chocolates and roses, it has as much to do with bees and honey as either of those. For starters, St. Valentine is not only the patron saint of lovers, but also of beekeepers.

Many know St. Valentine as the patron saint of lovers, but do you know why? The Roman Emperor thought single men made better soldiers, and therefore banned marriages. Because of this, St. Valentine started marrying couples on the sly. February 14 is the day on which St. Valentine was executed. When he was caught marrying against the Emperor's order's he was thrown in jail. He began sharing Christianity with his jailers while awaiting execution and as a show of faith he was asked to heal the jailers daughter from her blindness. She was healed and he was executed. After his death a note was found addressed to the daughter signed "your Valentine".

St. Valentine was also a beekeeper himself. As such, bees symbolize love and beekeepers symbolize the protection of marriage and family. St. Valentine is charged with the protection of beekeepers and ensuring the sweetness of the harvest.

It's no surprise the association between love and honey predates Valentines Day as we know it to early Egypt and Greece, from stories of cupid dipping his arrows into honey, to myths of Ra's tears that turned into honeybees sent to woo back his lost love, there are endless connections between bees, love, fertility and sweet golden honey.

There is a tradition that posits the love of a married couple is "meant-to-bee" if they can walk through a swarm of bees without getting stung. Even the word honeymoon is directly associated with beekeeping tradition. It comes from the idea that a newlywed couple should be gifted enough mead at their wedding by the local beekeeper to drink for thirty days, one full cycle of the moon, to instill luck and fertility into a marriage. The honey wine was considered an aphrodisiac. If the couple produced a son, the beekeeper would be handsomely rewarded.

On this gloomy Valentine's Day I find it is appropriate to call on the intercession of St. Valentine to ensure the sweetness of the season's harvest and provide special protection. Even if you are not a beekeeper, how can you call in love and sweetness into your life? I believe when we come from a place of love our harvest is always sweet.


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