Viking Feasting, Beer and Mead

Do you want to party like a Viking? Then you will need lots of beer and mead for you and your friends and family. A Viking feast often lasted for 2, 3 or 4 days and weddings and festivals lasted up to 12 days! Vikings were well known for feasting and drinking as hard as they raided and battled. 

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Mead is made by fermenting honey and grapes, whereas beer is any beverage made from the fermentation of grains. The Norsemen drank both of these alcoholic beverages, occasionally even in combination and to great excess during feasts and festivals.

Beer and mead were widely consumed in Europe during the Early Medieval Period and up until the Viking Age, according to recorded documents (775-1050 A.D.). Some academics, however, contend that it wasn't until the 7th century that the first domesticated grains started to reach Scandinavia. However, there is evidence to suggest that Scandinavians drank mead as children. Mead therefore probably came before beer in Viking society.

Beer and mead were staple beverages for most civilizations in addition to milk and water. Vikings were no different.

The Vikings were most likely consuming a lot of brewskis by the eighth century. Beer and mead are frequently referred to as being an essential component of Norse life in the Hávamál and other works of poetry and literature by the Norse.

In Scandinavia during the Viking era, mead and beer were the most popular drinks. On a daily basis, Vikings drank milk and water, but when they wanted to celebrate they drank lots of mead and beer.

To convert beer to mead, add some mead to the beer. For the Viking Age, beer and mead were only consumed during special occasions like feasts, religious ceremonies, and rituals.

Barley and water are fermented to create beer, an alcoholic beverage. They probably also knew that adding hops would add flavor. By current standards, the beer made using these techniques would have been rather weak, although it might have been safer to drink than certain water.

Mead is a honey-based beverage that resembles wine. Since there is a lot of sugar, the resulting beverage is stronger than beer. With the opening of numerous meaderies, mead has recently seen a slight resurgence in some regions of Europe.

Additionally, it is possible that the Vikings created wines from other fruits. Since grapes couldn't have been grown there at the time, "real wine" had to be brought from another part of Europe. However, we do know that when they had access to actual wine, the Vikings drank it.

                                                 Viking Feast
Viking feasting involved a lot of eating and drinking but there would also have been entertainment. Singing and poetry were frequently included in Viking feasting and they would have been even more significant during a major festival. Skalds, or storytellers, would be asked to play their favorite songs or even to write an unique poem in honor of the occasion.

There might be games and competitions as the celebrations approached their peak and alcohol consumption rose. There were many tests of stamina, agility, and strength, and warriors would compete with one another to demonstrate their skill.

Horses or other animals may be sacrificed during religious observances and year-turning ceremonies; the blood is then poured on the altar, and the meat is afterwards consumed at the feast. A sacrifice of one of the Vikings' prized horses demonstrated a strong sense of devotion to the gods.

The rank of the household celebrating determined the nature of the feasts themselves. A small farm may celebrate by serving larger quantities of food that was remarkably similar to their usual fare. Successful traders, raiders, and district chieftains in particular may enjoy more lavish diets that include huge quantities of roast meats and fish as well as maybe exotic vegetables and fruits that were traded or seized on travels.

Minor feasts and celebrations would span a few days, while big feasts would last 12 days. The winter solstice gave us Jul, which was celebrated from December 20 to the 31st and from which we get part of our Christmas customs; the spring equinox gave us Ostara, a festival of renewal that celebrated the return of fertility to the land. The midsummer festival coincided with the summer solstice, a time when most international trade occurred and Vikings embarked on fishing and raiding trips. Harvest festivals were held in August and September, when most foods were at their best for consumption and storage for the winter. In the autumn, most weddings took place.

For these festivals, families, neighbors and even towns would congregate. To accommodate guests, long trestle tables with benches would be erected up. Along with trays of boiled or roasted vegetables, food was offered that included pork, ox, horse, fowl, beef, and a wide variety of fish. Freshly baked bread, butter, cheeses, sweet sweets, and nuts were all popular foods. To celebrate the gods, local chiefs, warlords, victorious raids, and newlyweds, vats of mead, ale, and wine were consumed.

                                 Sacrifices and Sex in Ceremony

Vikings included sex in some types of ceremonies, such as the Chief's Cremation Ceremony.

When a chief passed away, one of his "slave girls" had to consent to serve him in the hereafter. The first ceremony that allowed her to do so was quite upsetting. The girl was observed during the cremation ritual while being continuously intoxicated with various drinks.

The woman was required to perform "sexual rites" before being executed, during which she had intercourse with every guy in the community. She was later assassinated by the matriarch of the community, and the chief's and her own bodies were placed on a ship, set ablaze, and then sailed out to sea.

This ensured that she would spend all of eternity serving her lord in the afterlife. Through sexual rites, which were performed in the Viking manner, the chieftain's lifeforce was altered.

                                               Viking Diet

Meat, cereals, vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, and milk were the main food sources throughout the Viking Age. Because life at the time was difficult and plain living required a lot of energy, these foods were crucial components of their diets in order to provide them with all the energy they required.

The amount of fat in meals was not a concern during the Viking Age. Particularly in the winter, the Vikings required all the energy they could gather in the form of fat. Their diet included a lot of meat, fish, vegetables, grains, and dairy items. Berries, fruit, and honey were all examples of sweet food that was eaten. The Vikings in England were frequently painted as gluttons. The English said they ate and drank too much.

                                                   Meat and Fish

Every day, Vikings consumed some sort of meat. As great fishermen, the Vikings would have provided a significant portion of this in the form of fish. There is proof that they ate almost all the sea had to offer, including herring and whales.

The Norse were also quite adept at reducing wastage and canning food so that it would last through the harsh winter. The majority of historians concur that the Vikings had superior diets than most of the rest of Northern Europe's peasants, and many of them likely had similar diets to certain kings and queens.

The housekeeping during the Viking era required to be planned and adjusted for the various seasons. The typical Viking was a farmer with domesticated animals and crops in the field. He was self-sufficient. There were also others who needed to buy food because they could not produce it all. The local market might be used by the blacksmith or fisherman to buy or trade goods to meet their needs for food.

Many of the domestic animals that we are acquainted with today were kept by the Vikings. In an agricultural region, a typical Viking family would have had cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and goats. Hens, geese, and ducks were also present. For their milk and eggs, the majority of these would have been maintained. To avoid having to feed them throughout the chilly months, the Vikings only killed and ate them in the winter.

The domesticated animals served the Vikings well. They were initially utilized as working animals before being killed and consumed later. Later, the skins, horns, and bones were utilized to create clothing and tools like spoons, needles, and many other things.

                                                       Cereals

The Viking diet was largely composed of grains, such as bread and porridge. Even though it wouldn't have looked anything like the bread we eat today, bread would have been enjoyed with every meal.

Most likely, barley was the most typical grain. It spreads quickly and practically everywhere. It would have been able to cultivate wheat in some areas of Scandinavia, as well as other grains like rye, spelt, and oats.

When it was time to eat, prepared flatbreads or even thin buns made of ground barley and water would be served. It was difficult to prepare large amounts of unleavened loaves in advance since they become extremely hard after cooling.

It's possible that some Vikings used a method comparable to sourdough to make leavened breads, though it's difficult to locate direct proof of this.

                                            Walnuts and fruits

As far as we can learn, the Vikings did not grow their own fruit. However, we do know that they included a variety of fruits in their diets. We know the Vikings liked fruits, even though many of them would have been much more sour or bitter than they are now.

Many parts of Scandinavia at the time would have had access to orchard fruits like apples and pears. Plums and cherries would have also been available.

The Viking era had an abundance of wild fruit and berries. Berries including lingonberries, cloudberries, and raspberries were available to the Vikings.

                                 In the Viking Age, vegetables

Modern greenhouse farming methods would have prevented the Vikings from experiencing the year-round, anything-can-be-bought culture we currently enjoy. However, they did consume a variety of veggies. The Viking diet contains plenty of vitamins from legumes like peas and beans, wild garlic, and onions.

Additionally, they would have consumed root crops like beets, which store well and are frequently just left in the ground to last through the winter. The Vikings were also known to eat carrots, however it is unlikely that they would have encountered the orange variety we have today. Carrots came in a variety of colors back then, but were most frequently white or purple.

We know that as the Viking Age progressed and the Vikings came into contact with civilizations from the East, they were ardent consumers of the more exotic spices that traveled via the Silk Road, such as pepper and cinnamon.

So, if you want to party like a Viking you're going to need a lot of beer, mead and food to satisfy your friends and family at your feast.

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