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viking drinking horns

5 Interesting Facts About Viking Drinking Horns

Five facts about Viking drinking horns and how they relate to mead.

You’ve probably seen Viking drinking horns on television or in mead promotions, wondering if they’re authentic or just a cool bit of art in media. While they are neat things to see around, they aren’t just some made-up art piece but, rather a historical and culturally important chalice. The Viking drinking horn carries a long history and weaves through many customs still alive and well. Beyond being an aesthetically beautiful piece to drink mead from, Viking drinking horns have a fascinating story that represents the Nordic gods to rites of passage.

The tradition is over 2000 years old

Viking drinking horns have been around for 2,600 years and probably even longer. Their uses have evolved from culture to culture as practical drinking utensils to ritualistic and ceremonial items. While they are best remembered for being prolific in Viking culture, they’ve been found to be used in ancient Rome, Greece, and the Celts. Everyone used these handy and fancy cups; we’ve just associated them with the Vikings.

Use the Whole Animal

Older societies weren’t known for their waste and many that prized hunting as more than a necessity believed wasting any part of the animal was an affront to the gods of nature. It took a lot of energy to track, trap, and hunt prey and so, why waste any part of what you’ve spent all day trying to catch? Viking drinking horns probably came into existence by older cultures trying to utilize every part of the animal. Lucky for us they held that sensical belief as now we have thousands of years of art to drink from. While it’s true that drinking horns weren’t always made from the horn of an animal, it is its most likely origin.

Passed Through Families

If you see Viking drinking horns or other kinds of drinking horns in a museum, you’ll notice many of them tipped with various kinds of metals and most likely inscribed. Once drinking horns were shared around, though everyone made them independently from each other, people began producing them without the use of animals. They became family heirlooms and symbols of prestige or ceremonial importance. Many of the inscriptions in Viking drinking horns speak of what family they belong to, who they were passed down to, or something emblematic of the family.

From the Gods

Important customs and ceremonial symbols are often tied to the divine and Viking drinking horns are no different. For example, in Greek mythology, it was believed that Dionysus held the drinking horn to be sacred. The Scythian tribe believed the drinking horn was given to a king from a god. Other cultures believed the Viking drinking horn to be a symbol of abundance or life, a necessary implement to praise the divine. Each society that created their own and separate Viking drinking horn tied it to their beliefs in significant ways. Even when Christianity replaced Paganism across Europe, the Viking drinking horn was associated with Christian beliefs.

Cup of Fun

The Viking drinking horn, in every single culture that had one, was associated with alcohol and revelry. The pagan gods who were intertwined with the importance of the drinking horns were all the party gods, like Dionysus. With that, you’d probably think the drinking horns were mostly used to hold wine but, you’d be mistaken. Anything that was ritualistic significant to the culture would be in it and if we’re talking about the Viking drinking horn, it held mead. This cup of fun was so associated with revelry that slain warriors were offered a Viking drink horn when arriving at Valhalla.

Get Your Own Viking Drinking horn

Now that you know 5 interesting facts about Viking drinking horns, you’re probably thinking where you can get one. Well, you don’t have to go rummaging through a museum or settle for a plastic knock-off. If you’re going to drink mead and celebrate Scandinavian culture, why not go the full mile and drink from a real Viking drinking horn. Since we craft authentic mead, true to its lineage and history, we also pay homage to the Viking drinking horn. Made from real ox horn and can fit up to one pint, it’s the perfect addition to anyone who loves Viking culture.

When you lift up our Viking drinking horn, you’ll be carrying on a 2600-year-old legacy and celebrating an important part of nearly every ancient culture in the world. Ready to join the eternal party and sip mead like a real Viking?

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