XXII International Festival
of Celtic Music and Culture of Trieste
All concerts from 22 to 31 July will be broadcast live on Facebook and
HYDROMEL. NECTAR OF THE GODS OR ASTERIX'S MAGIC POTION?
by Cristiano Brandolini
Triskell partner with ASD Insubria Antiqua
Close your eyes and with your mind go back to ancient times, imagine you are in a sacred place, surrounded by oaks, where the druids are intent on officiating rites in honor of the gods.
Feasting on delicious food washed down with huge drinks of mead poured copiously into immense drinking horns: here, it is with this scene that I intend to make you begin this short journey into the history of this intriguing and ancient drink called "mead".
Mead or hydromel, from the Greek hỳdor (water) and méli (honey), is the oldest alcoholic drink produced by man in Europe, and among the most used in the ancient world, before the spread of the vine, in the basin of the Mediterranean, introduced the use of wine.
In prehistoric times it spread widely throughout the plains of northern and eastern Europe, even in cold climatic zones.
Honey added to water are the basic elements of mead.
The bee, sacred animal and celestial messenger who transforms the sun into honey, and the sacredness of water as the lifeblood that flows in the veins of mother earth, make mead sacred among the Celts, as the essence of the divine in the union between sky and earth. In Indo-European mythology, mead is the typical drink of the afterlife, in the Celtic world as in the Germanic one, and is a symbol of immortality.
In Celtic Europe (IX-I century BC) it was drunk by the Druids and the tribes in the four great sacred ceremonies that marked the rhythm of the seasons (Imbolc, Beltane, Lugnasad, Samonios).
Mead was a drink so common among Scandinavians and in Celtic culture that it was counted in numerous mythological tales and poems, such as in Norse mythology, where although not perfectly credible as of oral tradition, mead is an element central.
And where does the famous "honeymoon" of newlyweds get its name from? From the Vikings and from the fact that it was common for them during the lunar month following the wedding, drinking mead to ensure that the future unborn child would become strong and healthy but above all male!
There are many archaeological finds referring to this drink, in many princely tombs of Europe of the 6th-4th century BC vessels with the remains of mead have been found as a reserve for the deceased for the Sidhe, the Celtic afterlife, such as in the tomb of the prince of Hochdorf, in Germany in Baden-Wurttemberg (6th century BC), where among the extraordinary objects of the funerary equipment 17 drinking horns came to light, and a bronze cauldron, with a capacity of 500 liters, filled at the time of deposition in the tomb, for three quarters of mead which left a considerable deposit on the bottom that has been preserved up to the present day. The choice to place this drink in the very rich Hallstatt princely burials is no coincidence, it demonstrates the symbolic value of immortality of mead, its refinement and preciousness.
Mead is described by the ancients as a bubbly drink, we could say that it was their spirits; it is no coincidence that it has never been a "meal drink", but rather the ritual drink with which to sprinkle the sacrifices before the purifying fire or, thanks to its high alcohol content, the means to obtain alcoholic inebriation to be able to approach the divine up to to meet him during religious rites; but it was also a component of the panacea, the drink that cured all ailments of both the body and the spirit.
But when did man start making mead? and with what procedure?
That mead is a much older drink than beer or wine can be hypothesized thinking about the fact that in order to make wine primitive man had first of all to stop and become sedentary as a nomad, learn to cultivate cereals or vines and only after casually discovering that from the loaves, or from the juice of that cluster, he could obtain an intoxicating drink; for mead, on the other hand, he did not have to learn how to raise bees, but he had already been a collector of honey from wild swarms from time immemorial and he did not have to build the terracotta container for fermentation, because he already had the primitive but functional wineskin of leather, the container par excellence of nomadic populations.
The production process is also very simple, in fact all beekeepers know that to remove honey residues from squeezed combs the simplest way is to immerse them in water: the honey dissolves instantly. Once this operation is done, the mixture of water and honey begins to ferment immediately, naturally, by the yeasts present in the honey itself and is already drinkable.
Nowadays, many French beekeepers enjoy selling mead as the drink of Asterix. In the comic, as we all know, there is no mention of mead, but it is compared by today's beekeepers to the "magic potion". Indeed, upon reflection you can find similarities between the magic potion and the mead: both are boiled, in both flavoring substances, herbs and spices are boiled in the mead, and ironically a lot of other things in the magic potion, but above all. both the magic potion and the mead with its high alcohol content give the courage to face the enemy in battle.
Returned to us thanks to the numerous Celtic festivals and the rediscovery of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian culture, mead with different names and in different ways, has resumed to mark the seasonal passages of the solstices and equinoxes, also here in our country and has followed the Anglo-Saxons in America and Canada, giving rise to the largest artisan mead competition, the "Mazer Cup", which takes place in the United States.
Today there are many countries that produce mead, we can find this drink called with different names from area to area, or simply for the different spice they have.
For example in Brittany it is called Chouchen or Mez, in England and Ireland there are several, the traditional one is called Mead, in the Germanic and Scandinavian countries it is called Med or Met.
Nectar of the gods or magic potion, mead is and remains a drink that has always accompanied man on his earthly journey.
Raise your drinking horns and happy toast everyone!
Go! 2025 Nova Gorica and Gorizia European Capital of Culture 2025
2025 will be the year of the very important “Go! 2025 Nova Gorica and Gorizia European Capital of Culture 2025 ", a unique opportunity to promote and develop the creative and cultural fabric of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the competitiveness and attractiveness of the regional territory with the involvement of the various local production systems and the consequent positive effects not only socio-cultural, but also of an economic nature, as well as enhancement of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of our Region.
In the XXII Edition of the Triskell Festival, and in more detail in Itinerant Triskell, several dates have been added in locations in the region, to promote parks, squares, municipalities, archaeological sites, local realities, but also and above all a date in a prestigious festival such as the Etnos World Folklore Festival, just as a path towards GO! 2025. Itinerant Triskell therefore, will close the XXII Edition of the festival in Gorizia in Piazza Marconi, thanks to the partnership granted by the ass. Etnos Gorizia, with a view to shared synergy waiting for 2025.
We are waiting for you!