13 August 2012

Wait, that's Catholic? Jägermeister

The past week has been spent visiting with Little Bear's godfather, who (fortunately for us!) decided that if he was flying all the way to Alaska for the baptism, it only made sense to make a vacation out of it.  We enjoyed the opportunity to make a few brief expeditions out of town, relax, and just catch up.  The last evening of the visit, he and Matt surprised me by bringing home a little airplane-size bottle of Jägermeister to split, as neither Matt nor I had tried it before.

It is spicy and fruity; the strongest components I could pick out were licorice and citrus, but more than 50 ingredients combine to create its full, heady flavor.  One of the most interesting things about the little bottle, though, was the Jägermeister logo: the head of a stag with a cross between its antlers.

That symbol is scattered throughout medieval Christianity.  What connection does it have to a liquor first produced in the early 1900s?

As it turns out, Jägermeister translates from German as "hunt-master."  The liquor was so named because of the original distiller's passion for hunting, and the logo is a reference to the conversion of St. Hubert, patron of hunters:

On Good Friday morn, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: "Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell". Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, "Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?"

There is also a bit of German poetry on the label which translates to say, among other things, that the huntsmaster has a moral duty to honor God through His creatures.

That's certainly more Catholicism than I expected from a liquor not made by monks!

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