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Holiday Beverages Then and Now

By Anne Beggs
November 15, 2022

Holiday Beverages

To eat and drink is life itself. Breaking bread together is a timeless tradition globally, even among horses! Today I’m writing about holiday beverages, from ancient times to my own family’s favorites.

The oldest known alcoholic beverage was a wild grapes/rice/honey mead (wine-mead-sake). The earliest archaeological evidence dates to around 7000 BC from 9000-year-old pottery jars in the Neolithic village of Jiahu, located in Henan providence, Northern China. Without the discovered evidence, it is also possible and likely that humans have been fermenting beverages long before that.

Mead was not just for holidays, but for newlyweds. The term “honey moon” stems from the medieval tradition that a newlywed couple be given a month’s worth of mead, the month measured by the moon – the honey moon.

My first book, Archer’s Grace, begins in 1224 AD, in Connacht, Ireland, known for its harsh and limited growing season, food was sacred and not to be wasted, even among the nobility. Potable water wasn’t always available. Food preparation, from hunting and field dressing, to lavish banquets are woven into my writing. My characters and I love to eat and drink.

Mulled wine and ale were certainly favorites with my characters. Wine for the wealthy and ale for all. Honey was used for sweetening. Apples, pears, dried berries, nuts, and mayhap, for the nobility, the exceptional treat of oranges from Spain, and other expensive, imported spices, like ginger, pepper, cardamon, cloves and cinnamon would have been added. My short story, The Dragon Lord, in Unlocked, takes place during the winter solstice. You know they are warming her hands holding cups of mulled wine.

But this lovely winter drink has ancient roots: In the first century, Conditum Paradoxium; Hippocras (also spelled hypocras, hipocras); in Catalan, Pimentes de clareya, and down through the centuries. Mulled wine is still delighting drinkers today.

In 2004 we spent Christmas with family in Germany. Each town has a Christmas Market (If you are into the Christmas season, I highly recommend a yuletide trip to Germany and Europe.) and collecting the mugs from each village is a part of the fun.


Photo of my German Christmas Market mugs

Tom and Jerrys are absolutely my family’s favorite holiday beverage. It harkens back to the days of double boilers to heat the milk, and it was only large enough to heat two, maybe three tiny servings at a time; yet there were often eight to fifteen of us gathered in celebration. Imagine the wait and anticipation! The first served were finished and desiring more while the rest were still drooling for our first serving. There was such grand ceremony to this holiday treat. My dad did the honors, as my mom was very busy attending to all the other holiday entertaining and cooking details.

The adults got theirs with rum and brandy, us kids just drank it straight and sweet. All had a sprinkle of nutmeg. Today, a microwave makes this an instant treat, but I always remember my dad manning the double boiler, carefully filling each festive mug and placing them on a serving tray. This image still speaks of Father Christmas in all its benevolence and love. I still have our original Hot Toddy Rum and Brandy bottles, that I dutifully refill, half rum, half brandy. I’m SO sentimental. Cheers, Dad. For this and so many more treasured memories.

Paper Lantern Writers has another holiday cookbook, and beverages is the 2022 theme. If you have NOT downloaded your free copies of Appetizers, Desserts and Beverages, click on over to Paper Lantern Writers.

Anne Beggs
Written by Anne Beggs

Anne M. Beggs writes adventure romance and family saga set in Medieval Ireland. She is a member of Paper Lantern Writers and Historical Novel Society. For more about her books, mounted archery, and horses, please contact her on Facebook or Instagram @annitbella72

View Anne’s PLW Profile

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