Hot Buttered Rum
Hot Buttered Rum Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past."
~ Old Dutch proverb
Butter's popularity may wax and wane, but most people believe "butter makes everything better!" Hot buttered rum (traditionally made with rum, butter, hot water cider, sweetener, and spices) is a popular drink dating back to colonial days in the United States who considered this mix a medicinal strengthener. However, butter was not always so prized. Because unlike cheese, butter easily spoils, the ancient Greeks and Romans considered butter a food fit more for the northern barbarians. A play by the Greek comic poet Anaxandrides refers to Thracians as boutyrophagoi, "butter-eaters". And in his Natural History, Pliny the Elder calls butter "the most delicate of food among barbarous nations", and then goes on to describe its medicinal properties.
The Butter Churn
Evidence for the use of butter dates back as early as 2000 BC, and there is even mention of it in biblical works.
In the Mediterranean climate, unclarified butter spoils quickly - unlike cheese, it is not a practical method of preserving the nutrients of milk. The ancient Greeks and Romans seemed to have considered butter a food fit more for the northern barbarians. A play by the Greek comic poet Anaxandrides refers to Thracians as boutyrophagoi, "butter-eaters". In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder calls butter "the most delicate of food among barbarous nations", and goes on to describe its medicinal properties.
In the European tradition, the butter churn was primarily a device used by women, and the churning of butter was an essential responsibility along with other household chores.
In earlier traditions of butter making, nomadic cultures placed milk in skin bags and produced butter either by shaking the bag manually, or possibly by attaching the bag to a pack animal, and producing butter simply through the movement of the animal.
For a classic hot buttered rum, click "The Butterchurn" by Valentine Cameron Prinsep (1838-1904) and scroll down for a video of the dance performed by the Tay Dancers.