Friday, December 29, 2017

"Little brownies I am married"
(Folklore of bees)

Last week, I shared some Christmas folklore, courtesy of 1949's Encyclopædia of Superstitions.

As I continue reading this fine and fascinating book, I wanted to pass along an item I came across on the importance of "telling the bees" about the big changes in your life.

The section on bees in the Encyclopædia is three pages long. It includes chestnuts such as "If a member of the family dies, the bees in their hives must be told, or they will die, or go away" and "Before moving bees, they should be told by the owner, or he will be stung by the angry insects."

This is my favorite tidbit:
"In the year of Grace 1945, the Daily Mirror, a London picture newspaper, sent a photographer to a country wedding. His best picture was of the bride in her bridal finery bending over the the hives and whispering 'Little brownies I am married.' It was explained to the photographer that this was essential, as should a member of the family owning the bees marry without telling the bees, they would take leave of the hive, and never return. Thus in 1945 we retained the superstition of centuries concerning bees."
The "bees" entry continues...
"Telling the bees of death was (and, still is, in some remote areas) a most elaborate ceremonial. The procedure was that as soon as the master or mistress had breathed the last, a member of the household visited the hives, and bending over them said, three times, 'Little brownies, little brownies, your master (or mistress) is dead.' Silence was then observed for a few moments. If the bees then began to hum, it was a sign that they consented to remain under the new owner."
I will be sure, now, to remember to tell the bees when I decide to wrap up Papergreat and move on to other projects.

For #FridayReads, here's the rundown on the other books I'm currently reading, in addition to Encyclopædia of Superstitions:

  • Little, Big by John Crowley (which I expect will take me all winter)
  • Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory
  • Break Out: How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution by David L. Craddock

Also, I recently finished Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly, a wonderful graphic-novel memoir of growing up in Iraq in the middle of the 20th century, and Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins, a non-fiction book about Hay-on-Wye that ended up not being my cup of tea, despite its subject matter.

1 comment:

  1. I usually steer clear of bees but it seems as if I have a lot to tell them :)