Word of the Day – Thursday, March 16th



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MEAD (meed)

An alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water
Common clues:
Popular drink in Valhalla; Honey product; Honey drink; “Beowulf” quaff; Fermented honey drink; Medieval drink
Crossword puzzle frequency: 2 times a year
Frequency in English language: 16451 / 86800
News: Ancient beverage gains new popularity
How to home brew mead

Mead is a fermented alcoholic beverage made of honey, water, and yeast. Meadhing is the practice of brewing honey. Mead is also colloquially known as "honey wine". A brewery that deals specifically in mead is called either a meadery or a mazery.

The first known description of mead is in the hymns of the Rigveda, one of the sacred books of the historical Vedic religion and (later) Hinduism dated around 1700–1100 BC. During the "Golden Age" of Ancient Greece, mead was said to be the preferred drink.[2] Aristotle (384–322 BC) discussed mead in his Meteorologica and elsewhere, while Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) called mead militites in his Naturalis Historia and differentiated wine sweetened with honey or "honey-wine" from mead.

Around AD 550, the Brythonic speaking bard Taliesin wrote the Kanu y med or "Song of Mead." The legendary drinking, feasting and boasting of warriors in the mead hall Heorot in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf is echoed in the mead hall Dyn Eidyn now modern day Edinburgh in the epic poem Y Gododdin, both dated around AD 700. Mead is still drunk in the modern Celtic nations, Welsh for mead is Medd, and Leanne Meala in Scottish Gaelic.

Mead was the historical beverage par excellence and commonly brewed by the Germanic tribes in Northern Europe. However, heavy taxation and regulations on the ingredients of alcoholic beverages such as the Reinheitsgebot or Purity Laws led to commercially made mead becoming a more obscure beverage up until recently. Some monasteries kept up the old traditions of mead-making as a by-product of beekeeping, especially in areas where grapes could not be grown.

In many parts of Europe it was traditional to supply a newly married couple with enough mead for a month, ensuring happiness and fertility. From this practice we get honeymoon. However, this etymology is not accepted by linguists.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mead".