How Drinking Eggnog Became Synonymous With Christmas Festivities

These days, as soon as the weather begins to cool down, you can walk into pretty much any grocery store and grab a carton or two of eggnog. While there may be some debate as to when eggnog season officially starts, it is probably safe to say that the holiday season just wouldn't be the same without this sweet and creamy beverage. However, it wasn't always so easy to get your hands on this festive nog, and the recipe has certainly changed over the years.

While your everyday grocery store eggnog is usually sold right next to the milk, the traditional homemade recipe was a little bit stronger, not to mention less kid-friendly. Traditionally, eggnog is made with milk, egg yolks, sugar, spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, and a hefty dose of rum or whiskey, according to Food Network. But while there are certainly plenty of ways to spike your drink with some extra holiday fun, these days, everyone from your grandmother to your youngest child can enjoy a glass of store-bought eggnog on Christmas morning. But how exactly did this sweet concoction become so integral to the holiday season? It turns out, we have Medieval monks to thank for this popular Christmas drink.

Eggnog was a favorite of the American colonists

In Britain during the 13th century, monks were known to make "posset," an ale that was mixed with milk, eggs, figs, and sherry, according to Time. Because its main ingredients were considered pricey luxuries at the time, the beverage was usually reserved for times of good prosperity. However, it didn't become associated with Christmas specifically until the 1700s, when the drink made its way to America.

Colonists in the New World might not have had much, but they did have farms that gave them access to plenty of chickens and cows, and therefore eggs and milk, as well as large quantities of cheap rum, per Time. They enjoyed the warming effect of the spiced boozy beverage during the cold winter months, adding more seasonal spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, to make it a truly festive holiday drink, according to Insider. These days, eggnog is still very much synonymous with Christmas festivities, but one doesn't have to have their own farm to enjoy the eggnog. However, store-bought eggnog is slightly different than the traditional recipe, containing just a "mixture of milk or milk products of at least 6% butterfat, at least 1% egg yolk solids, sweetener, and flavoring," and zero alcohol, says Ethical Foods. But if you really want to embrace this holiday tradition, there are plenty of ways to make old-fashioned eggnog in your own kitchen this Christmas season.