Let’s be honest: who doesn’t enjoy going to a nice cocktail party, mingling with friends or business associates or hanging out at the local pub with their mates once in a while? Granted, there are those who actually would rather stay home and read a book, but my hunch is that they are a noticeable minority. If we can all accept the fact that drinking alcohol has been part of human culture since our ancestors discovered how to actually make it, then we can begin to explore the reasons why alcohol and mythology are inextricably linked together.
Gods with Human Traits
While the following is not true for every culture and every religion, there seems to be a penchant in many cases for civilizations and cultures to ascribe some human characters, some might call them flaws, to their gods. They were often described as having human emotions, such as anger, jealousy and a sense of vengeance. They also were a little more “humanized” by giving them other human characteristics, such as drinking. Just a quick review of some of the ancient cultures reveals that the trend was fairly pervasive.
The Nectar of the Gods
Many of these cultures obviously gave their gods some exalted powers, including the ability to drink things that regular humans just couldn’t get their hands on. The principal one is the mythical nectar, which was variously described as being so delicious and so wonderful, that it just wasn’t fit for human consumption. The Romans, for instance were known for having a good time, perhaps sometimes, too much of a good time. They actually had a god of wine, named Bacchus, who was actually an import from the earlier Greek civilization, who had their own version, named Dionysius. Bacchus liked to entertain himself with young women, involved in parties that were referred to as Bacchanals. Even today, in central Rome, you can visit Nero’s Golden Palace, the DomusAurea, where you can still see paintings that are almost 2,000 years old, depicting Bacchus cavorting with nymphs.
The 400 Rabbits of Drunkenness
The Aztecs also had a lot of mythology surrounding their favourite drink, which we today call tequila. According to their mythology, the agave plant was given to them by the gods, through a very complex series of events. What they created with the agave plant was known as pulque and it must’ve been quite strong. Most people were limited to only 4 cups, although elders and priests could have as much as they wanted. In their complex mythology, a person’s state of the inebriation referred to as Centzon Totochtin, which roughly translated means 400 rabbits of drunkenness. So today, if you’re having tequila shots with your mates, you don’t necessarily have to say “bottoms up” or “cheers”, you can say: “here’s to your 400 rabbits!”
Our Modern Mythology
At least in the Western world, we don’t typically believe in multiple gods with supernatural powers who often act like humans. But we do have a social habit of throwing cocktail parties which serve as an excellent way for people to get together, connect with one another and spend an extremely pleasant evening together. If you want to host such a party, it doesn’t have to be such a big chore. All you have to do is contract a professional mobile bar hire service, in which case they will not only provide the physical bar for you, but also all the drinks necessary, create any special cocktails that guests require letting you enjoy your own party. But please, no dancing with nymphs!
Image courtesy of: freedigitalphotos.net David Castillo Dominici