Celebrating the sweetest month of the year

Did you know that during September the Americans celebrate National Honey Month? Even if your country does not publicly praise honey, it can safely be said that few people around the world are indifferent to this golden sticky substance that radiates energy and happiness. It is no secret that raw honey is hugely beneficial to your health.

Just like an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a spoonful of real honey is packed with antioxidants that boost your immune system and reduce the chances of various diseases. For those looking for beauty secrets that work, honey is something you should consider if you want to improve the quality of your complexion and make your skin glow. No matter how many uses for honey you can think of, it is difficult to name all the ways it enhances our lives as the list seems endless.

The Russians have paid tribute to honey in their language. Here are some well-known Russian sayings, proverbs, and phrases that express life through honey.

Ложка дёгтя в бочке мёда

Transliteration: Lozhka dyogtya v bochke myoda

Translated literally as a spoonful of tar in a barrel of honey, this idiom means a small trouble that spoils the success or enjoyment of something. The English equivalent is a fly in the ointment.

Медовый месяц

Transliteration: Medovyy mesyats

To celebrate their marriage, the newlyweds go on their honeymoon. In Russia, the first month following marriage is called honey month as it is full of happiness and love and is considered to be the sweetest period in a married couple's life. You can say medovyy mesyats figuratively, to refer to the beginning of something that involves new relationships, such as starting a new job, when people are pleased with each other, and nothing is bothering them.

Трудолюбив как пчела

Transliteration: Trudolyubiv kak pchela

We all know that it takes bees a lot of work to make honey and the process itself is complicated and time-consuming. So when we want to pay somebody a compliment on their diligence in Russian, we can use trudolyubiv kak pchela to mean they are hardworking as a bee. 

Мёдом намазано

Transliteration: Myodom namazano

Honey consists of water and sugars that make it sticky. Because it is so sugary, honey attracts different insects, including its makers – bees. With honey’s gluey property and insect appeal in mind, the Russians say myodom namazano when they want to describe something that attracts a lot of people. Translated literally as honey spread, we usually use this phrase when referring to a popular place crowded with people.

Чтобы жизнь медом не казалась

Transliteration: chtoby zhizn’ myodom ne kazalas’

Life is not always a bowl of cherries, and we in Russia usually mean it by saying chtoby zhizn myodom ne kazalas or literally, so that life doesn’t always seem like honey. In the Russian language, we usually use this expression in two cases. First, when someone is going through a difficult period after a series of pleasant and enjoyable situations, we remind them that life is not always as sweet as honey and that they should pull themselves together. In this case, chtoby zhizn myodom ne kazalas is used not as a criticism but rather in a mildly mentoring sense. Second, when someone is publicly accused of doing something bad, you say chtoby zhizn myodom ne kazalas to mean the accused deserves their lot and that their good days are over.

Вашими бы устами да мёд пить

Transliteration: Vashymi by ustami da myod pit'

These days, not many Russian people express their thoughts with this old-fashioned idiom. It was used in the past during the conversation between two people, in response to favourable predictions, assumptions or comforting words, meaning may your words come true. Translated literally as with your mouth it would be good to drink mead (a sweet alcoholic drink made from honey), the outdated expression has today been replaced with vashi slova da Bogu v ushi, which has a precise English equivalent from your mouth/lips to God's ears.

На языке мёд, а на сердце – лёд

Transliteration: na yazyke myod, a na serdtse lyod

Although rarely used these days, the expression na yazyke myod, a na serdtse lyod is another tribute to honey in the Russian language. Translated as honey on the tongue but ice in the heart, it used to be used to refer to a hypocritical person, whose actions do not match their beliefs. The closest English equivalent of na yazyke myod, a na serdtse lyod is a honey tongue, a heart of gall.

Natalia Shankova
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