Christmas History: Eggnog

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A couple of years ago I unearthed and presented some fascinating and true tales of Christmas History. Subjects discovered were: snowballs, lumps of coal, mistletoe, and wrapping paper.

In the interests of scholastic thoroughness, I’ve decided to take another stroll down Christmas History Lane. This time to reveal the results of my inquiry into the origins of eggnog.

From the 12th Century (when Christmas really started getting going) onwards, there was no nog standard. It was made from whatever was handy: Potato nog in the northeast; wheatnog in central Europe; in the south a spicy variant made of berries to rice sprung up; and briefly, in the Nordic countries, a herring nog was bandied about. And a million regional variations between. It was total chaos.

Without one single benchmark for holiday drinks, there was no way for intercultural holiday festivities to proceed without offending guests, or embarrassing hosts. Or both.

Travellers would often return home with horror tales of the fallout from Welsh leeknog or the vomit-inducing Portuguese beefnog. Or fail to return home at all, after an untoward remark led to their unfortunate beheading.

Something needed to be done, not only to preserve the sanctity of the holidays, but also to bring people together in a danger-free environment.

Noted 18th Century Christmasologist Sir Ebenezer Paddington writes “How tragicke and disgust-inducing these scores of despickable Nogges. The citizenry cravethed a solitary Nogge, to Unite their Holidays.”

Finally, a powerful cabal of Christmas heavyweights (consisting of church leaders, captains of industry, the North Pole Lobby, and carol-writers) convened for the Council of Mannheim in 1581. It was there that, after sampling and discarding a plethora of other options, they ultimately settled on an egg-based nog as the beverage of choice for the holiday season.

It was not the most radical (or tasty) choice, but it was the one least likely to disturb the more conservative factions of the society.

There was of course some difficulties enforcing the new regime, as people attempted to continue whipping up their local nog of choice. Fortunately, these uprisings were swiftly and brutally suppressed.

And eggnog has been the drink of choice for the holidays ever since.

2017-09-14T08:43:52+00:00 December 22 2010|