Christmas foods in medieval times

First of all, we wish our readers and customers a warm and pleasant Christmas and New Year holiday season!

We hope you will continue to read and learn, along with us, about the rewards of natural health fundamentals that have been with us all along, many of which we are just rediscovering in mondern times.


Now let’s take a little food history trip to medieval times in Europe and see what culinary delights they enjoyed at this time of the year.

From all accounts, goose, peacock, wild boar and venison were the favored main dishes. There was no holiday turkey as turkeys came from the Americas and were not introduced into Europe until the late 1600s.

And there was a great difference between the holiday spread of the rich and that of the poor.

The rich had a great variety of meats and other dishes, many of them flavored with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg imported from the Orient and very expensive. Mince pie was a favorite tradition, made of meat and flavored with spices.

Poor people and their animals basically lived on the same grain-based diet. Most people did not have enough grain to sustain their animals throughout the winter, so if they were fortunate enough to have animals they slaughtered them in the fall.

For the special holiday season the luckier poor had sausage, ham, bacon and possibly salted fish, dried peas and beans, and honey for their sweets.

The ‘more fortunate’ poor folks without animals were often distributed ‘Humble Pie’ by the rich–so named because the dish was made from the ‘humbles’ of deer and other animals. ‘Humbles’ were heart, liver, brain, tongue,  feet and ears all made into pies to make them stretch further. That is the origin of today’s well known phrase ‘humble pie.’

During the Christmas season (only), both rich and poor often were the partakers of a strong drink dubbed ‘Church Ale,’ which was produced and distributed by the churches for the season. Another favored drink was ‘Lambswool,’ mulled beer with apples floating on top.

Sugar was rare and very expensive in medieval Europe. Native to India, sugar cane was widely used throughout Persia by the 5th century AD. However, it wasn’t common in Europe until the late Middle Ages. It was likely introduced by Arab physicians who used it as medicine.

In Europe it was also regarded as a ‘medicine’ as well as a sweetener, and its use appears in many ancient compilations of medicinal formulas. It was particularly favored in Britain where physicians prescribed it for winter colds.

So as you can see by this brief look at the past, even if many of us in the modern world are eating ‘humble pie’ during these troubling times, likely it won’t be made of ears and feet.

And if we’re fortunate enough to be able to over indulge during the holiday season, be sure to keep digestive enzymes handy!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *