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"An attendant stood by
With a decorated pitcher, pouring bright
Helpings of mead.
And the minstrel sang,
Filling Heorot with his head-clearing voice,
Gladdening that great rally of Danes and Geats."
~ Beowulf (c 975-1010 AD), translation by Seamus Heaney
Mead, fermented honey wine, also known as nectar or ambrosia, may be the world's oldest alcoholic drink, full of the sweetness and floral essences of summer! Having fallen out of popularity when improved medieval farming methods produced cheaper alternatives like beer, and later when West Indian sugar imports reduced the incentives to keep bees, mead has seen a resurgence, bolstered by fantasy gaming and literature including the wildly popular Game of Thrones! Besides modern recipes, there are variations of traditional meads including: Acerglyn - made with maple syrup; Black Mead - made with Black Currants; Bochet - made with the honey caramelized or burned before it is added to the water; and Braggot - made with malted grain (usually barley). Mead figures prominently in Norse Mythology, and is said to imbue the drinker with eloquence and the gift of poetry. The magical mead is created as a result of violent and strange happenings and deceptions, involving giants, dwarves, and the god Odin! Two types of mead are created in the story (the lesser beverage known as the "rhymester's share") and the Mead of Suttungr (which enables the drinker to become "a skald or scholar", able to recite any information and solve any question)! Choose your mead wisely, and you too may be inspired with the gift of poetry, or at the very least, respectable rhyming verse. 🍯 🐝🍷
Mead Day celebrates a historical and legendary beverage, mead.
Also referred to as honey wine, mead is made by boiling honey and water into a syrup, adding yeast and spices, then fermenting the mixture over the course of many months.
In Celtic cultures, Mead was believed to enhance virility and fertility while also contributing supposed aphrodisiac qualities.
As a result, Mead found its way into Irish wedding ceremonies in particular. The term “honeymoon” is believed to have stemmed from the Irish tradition of newlyweds drinking honey wine everyday for one full moon (a month) after their weddings. Today, some Irish weddings still include a traditional Mead toast to the newlyweds.
In Norse mythology, the 'Mead of Poetry' is a mythical beverage that enables the drinker to become omniscient and also imbues a gift of poetry.
For learn more, click the illustration by Katharine Pyle showing the god Odin drinking the mead with the beautiful Gunnlod, who was charged by her father, the giant, Suttungr, to protect the mead. In the end, she is either seduced and tricked into giving the mead to Odin, who turns into an eagle, leaves her and brings the secret to mankind.