Is Basil Actually Holy?
Basil is a key ingredient in many cuisines around the world, from Italian to Thai. The herb has a long history of use in religious traditions, dating back to the time of Christ. Although basil is not mentioned in the Bible, the plant is said to have grown at the site of Christ’s crucifixion. In Christianity, basil is associated with St. Basil, who has a feast day on January 1 in Greece. On this day, basil is blessed at church and used in special dishes prepared for the occasion.
There is estimated to be from 50-150 species of basil which include: Sweet, Thai Sweet, Holy, Genovese, Napoletano, Purple, Lemon, Lime, Lettuce, and Cinnamon to name of few.
In Hinduism, basil is considered a sacred plant. It means purification. protection, and eternal life and is used in burial rituals. The leaves are used in puja (worship) ceremonies and given as offerings to deities. Basil is also thought to protect against evil spirits. Tulsi, a type of basil, is especially revered and is often planted in front of Hindu homes and temples.
The use of basil as a medicinal herb dates back to ancient times. In India, the leaves are used to treat a variety of conditions, including fever, colds, stomach disorders, and headaches. Basil is also said to improve digestion and boost immunity.
Modern science has begun to validate some of these traditional uses for basil. Studies have shown that the herb has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. These effects may help explain why basil has been used to treat a wide range of ailments for centuries.
The religious significance of basil has its roots in different worldwide beliefs. The Greek Orthodox Church uses basil to prepare their holy water and is also used for blessings with the holy water. Jewish traditions say that basil strengthens you when fasting.
Basil’s original symbolism was meaning hate, but later became a symbol of love. During the Victorian era sweet basil symbolized good wishes to the person receiving it. In Italy, a man who received and accepted basil from a woman was destined to marry that individual. It was also reported to have been used in perfumes for kings.
Remember these things that you have learned the next time you use your basil.
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