Wine Religious Uses

As one of the first alcoholic beverages of modern human civilization, wine managed to infuse itself into almost every major religion of the world. Since of dawn of time, religions of Europe and Middle East slowly incorporated this "nectar of the gods" into their ceremonies, maintaining its popularity and survival throughout centuries and millennia's of human advancement. During long periods of time, recipe of wine was guarded as close secret of religious sects and powerful ruling families of Sumerian and Egypt empires, but when the wine finally managed reached in Ancient Greece and Rome it spawned whole new set of gods and ceremonies centered on this fascinating alcoholic beverage. As those ancient civilizations fell, wine managed to survive the dark and middle ages under protection of Jews and Christians, guided by the numerous appearances of wine in the Bible.

Wine in religious ceremonies

The first religions that included wine into their ceremonies were Sumerians and Egyptians. During the thousand years of their reign, they celebrated wine by paying respect to several gods for whom they believed were responsible for the creation of wine. Sumerians worshiped their "Lady of the Wine" Geshtin (also known as Geshtinanna, Gestinann), and Egyptians had Renenutet, goddess of the harvest and wine. Many surviving tombs of Egyptian pharaohs contained detailed hydrographical accounts of the creation of wine, its use in life and religion. Also, several types of wine were used as a part of the Egyptian embalming and afterlife ceremonies (pots of red wine were found under the pyramids in the tombs of Pharaohs).

As far as 1000 BC, Greeks managed to import the wine from the Egyptians and create the cult of Dionysus - Olympian god who gave the secret of winemaking to humankind. Celebration of Dionysus took over entire Greece and its colonies, and every year elaborate three day feasts were performed in the honor of their wine god. During celebration, everyone wore masks that symbolized many faces of Dionysus, and wine was drunk by both rich and poor. Romans took the legend of the Dionysus and rebranded him as Bacchus - jovial and happy god who loved to drink a lot.

Wine in cup

The most famous use of wine in religion was by Christians, who from early years of their faith started the practice of drinking Communion wine, which symbolically represents blood of Jesus Christ. According to the beliefs of Christianity, consumption of wine is only recommended in moderation, and many mentions of wine in Holy Bible solidified their beliefs. The most famous use of wine in Bible originates from Gospel account of the Last Supper, which describes how Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples and commanded them to remember him by it. Judaism allows the use of wine in several of their ceremonies and holidays (Shabbat, Pesach, sacrificial service), but they do not associate wine with blood.

Several religions forbade the use of wine in any of their ceremonies, most notably Islam (strictly forbidden in the Islamic Law after the death of their prophet Mohamed) and Buddhism (who regard the use of wine and any other alcoholic beverages as the violation of 5th of their Five Precepts codes).