Meaning: “Honey-bee”
Gender: Female
Pronunciation: ma-LIS-uh
Origin: Greek
Other forms of the name: Melitta, Melisa, Melika, Mélissa

You may say “ho-hum” about the name Melissa, but I think after hearing a bit about the mythology surrounding Melissa, you’ll be singing a different tune.
The name Melissa is a fairly old one, although it has been around since Ancient Greece it truly gained popularity in the 18th century. It comes from the Greek meli meaning “honey”. In Greek mythology Melissa was a nymph who taught people how to use honey and a nurse to the baby Zeus. Instead of feeding him milk she fed him honey and because of her all the nymphs caring for Zeus soon became known as “Melissa”. Another story says she was the one who hid Zeus from Cronos who was eating all his children so none would overthrow his rule, and when Cronos found out he turned her into an earthworm, but Zeus feeling sorry for her turned her into a beautiful bee. In the 16th century a poet called Ariosto wrote about a good fairy named Melissa in his poem “Orlando Furioso”. In the 17th century Scottish poet Thomas Blacklock wrote an ode to Melissa’s birthday.

“Ye nymphs and swains, whom love inspires
With all his pure and faithful fires,
Hither with joyful steps repair;
You who his tenderest transports share
For lo ! in beauty’s gayest pride,
Summer expands her bosom wide ;
The Sun no more in clouds inshriu’d,
Darts all his glories unconfin’d;
The feather’d choir from every spray
Salute Melissa’s natal day.

Hither ye nymphs and shepherds haste,
Each with a flow’ry chaplet grae’d,
With transport while the shades resound,
And Nature spreads her charms around;
While ev’ry breeze exhales perfumes,
And Bion his mute pipe resumes;
With Bion long disus’d to play,
Salute Melissa’s natal day.

For Bion long deplor’d his pain
Thro’ woods and devious wilds in vain;
At last impell’d by deep despair,
The swain preferr’d his ardent pray’r;
His ardent pray’r Melissa heard,
And ever)* latent sorrow cheer’d,
His days with social rapture ble~t,
And scoth’d each anxious care to rest.
Tune, shepherds, tune the festive lay,
And hail Melissa’s natal day.

With Nature’s incense to the skies
Let all your fervid wishes rise,
That Heav’n and Farth may join to shed
Their choicest blessings on her head;
That years protracted, as they flow,
May pleasures more sublime bestow ;
While by succeeding years surpast,
The happiest still may be the last;
And thus each circling Sun display,
A mere auspicious natal day.”

Today the name Melissa is still quite popular, in 2010 it ranked at #157, but don’t let that deter you from this beautiful name with a long history and mythology!

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