Let us Worship and Drink: The History of Religion and Wine

Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to Abbe Morellet in 1779 claiming that the strategic location of the elbow was proof that God wanted his people to drink wine. The argument was that if God had placed our elbow any lower, it would have been impossible for us to move wine glasses to our mouths. It was, therefore, the will of God that people drank wine while worshipping him.

Religion and wine: A timeless relationship

Did you know? As early 4000 BCE, Egyptians started associating wine with gods. 

The Egyptians’ patron god of wine, Hathon, was honored on monthly basis on the day of intoxication. A similar thing occurred in ancient Greek society, where people hailed Dionysus as the provider of all good gifts and recognized him as the patron of wine. Dionysus was belived to offer spiritual visions to his devotees. Romans believed that Jupiter, the great god of light, air, and heat, bestowed wine upon the human race. Almost all Roman festivals took place during the wine-producing and grape-growing agricultural cycles.

Egyptian Wine History: Two different perceptions

Wine was also associated with spirituality in other ancient cultures. For instance, in the large casks of sake situated at Shinto shrines in Japan, there is evidence of wine, tied to religious practices. Also, there is evidence of wine on ceremonial altars honoring the god of prosperity within Chinese culture.

History of Religion and Wine

In Christianity, the Bible claims that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding ceremony in Cana. The Christian sacrament of communion shows how worshipers use subtle pleasures to find fellowship in the communion of love and God. Throughout the centuries, the Catholic Church has maintained the culture of winemaking and drinking for sacramental reasons.

With wine for all, one nation under God was founded

The association of religion and wine, especially in European nations, was carried over to American colonies. The Pilgrims in America began making wine shortly after they reached Plymouth. This wine was then used in the first Thanksgiving on July 30th 1623, marking the beginning of a culture that would play a critical role in forming a nation. In 1697, a small group of Jesuit priests arrived in the Baja region of California from Mexico where they started the practice of planting grapes to meet their demand for communion wine . New missions were then established in Los Angeles, San Diego, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco, making California a wine-making county. The settlers in other parts of the country also adopted the culture of wine-making. For instance, the German Protestants in Missouri discovered that wine enabled a sense of festivity and camaraderie that brought together all the Christians.

This day in Wine History

5th July 1779: Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to Abbe Morellet, explaining why God desired human beings to enjoy wine by strategically locating the elbow on the arm and not any other part of the body. This associates wine drinking with divinity.
July 30th, 1623: The Pilgrims began making wine shortly after they arrived in Plymouth. The first wine produced was later used to celebrate the first Thanksgiving.

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