THE BEET GENERATION
Legends of the Beetroot
By Chas Saunders and Peter J Allen
BEETROOT has a hard time. It's unfashionable, it's boring, and no-one really likes it much. But all that's set to change with our amazing beetroot research. We've discovered that the humble beet has some amazing properties and may just change your life!
It all started when we came across Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (see below). A gripping, hilarious novel about the quest for immortality, this book is so full of beetroot references that reading a page feels like consuming a vast bowl of borscht. Always alert to the mythology of everyday life, we thought Tom might be onto something and decided to investigate...
Two hearts beet as one
APHRODITE, the Greek Goddess of Love, was exquisitely beautiful. She was sexy, snugglesome and could melt hearts with the flick of a holy eyelid. And to what did she attribute her romantic powers? It wasn't lipstick, perfume or a little black dress. It was beetroot. She couldn't get enough of the stuff.
In fact, beetroot has a legendary connection to affairs of the heart. With APHRODITE as patron and unofficial Beet Goddess, the word spread that beetroots could enhance beauty and provide aphrodisiac properties. (APHRODITE's beauty is universally acknowledged but we haven't tested the beet's erotic properties under lab conditions yet.) The Oracle at Delphi claimed that beetroots are worth their weight in silver, second only to horseradish in mystic potency. And the Oracle certainly knew a thing or two.
The belief persists to this day that if a man and a woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love. (With each other, presumably.) That's something many of you can take advantage of, and we wish you every happiness. These beliefs may simply be from association with APHRODITE, but we have a better theory. The beetroot is roughly the same colour and shape as the organ of love, the heart. And that raises the humble beet from a boring vegetable to a Symbol.
So when women of the early Celt cultures used powdered beetroot as rouge and lipstick, they weren't just making themselves red in the face. They were taking on the romantic aura of the hearty beet. Beetroots were even featured on early Valentine cards, such as the one by E. Curtis pictured here. Some of the puns on 'beetroot' were truly appalling.
Beetroot appears in several Talmud ceremonies to ward off disease and obtain God's favor. The Hebrew word for beetroot appears to resemble the word for 'banish'. It's probable that the blood-red colour also has some health/military significance. If you have healthy beet-powered blood, you'll quickly dispatch your enemies. Particularly if their unrighteous blood is turnip-colored.
Beetroots were also used in some cultures to colour hard-boiled eggs, making them bright red. These were eaten as symbols of the Sun God to give prosperity, health and other benefits.
Finally, check out KVASIR, the Norse God of Inspiration. There's a strong beetroot connection here as Kvas, the staple drink of the Slav and Nordic peoples, is made from fermented beet juice and comes straight out of the mythology. KVASIR can be found in our Top Gods department here.