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Symbel (Germanic feasting)

Paul C. Bauschatz in 1976 suggested that the term reflects a pagan ritual which had a “great religious significance in the culture of the early Germanic people”.[1]

The ritual according to Bauschatz was always conducted indoors, usually in a chieftain’s mead hall. Symbel involved a formulaic ritual which was more solemn and serious than mere drinking or celebration. The primary elements of symbel are drinking ale or mead from a drinking horn, speech making (which often included formulaic boasting and oaths), and gift giving. Eating and feasting were specifically excluded from symbel, and no alcohol was set aside for the gods or other deities in the form of a sacrifice.[8]

Bauschatz’ lead is followed only sporadically in modern scholarship.

Source: Symbel – Wikipedia


Alu (Runes, Runology) – Wikipedia


Thyle (Scandinavian courts)


  1. Tim B.

    “The term minni “remembrance, memory” was used for ritual drinking dedicated to the remembrance of the gods. Terms used in this context, both in the Eddaic poems and in the sagas, include minnis-öl “memory-ale”, minnis-horn “memory-horn”, minnis-full “memory-cup”, minni-sveig “memory-draught”. “

  2. Tim B.

    ” Symbel is always formally closed once the formal boasts are completed, in order that the symbel might maintain its dignity and not degenerate into “mere partying”.[13] The two types of boast are the ȝielp (pronounced ‘yelp’) and the beot (pronounced ‘bayawt’, but as one syllable). The former is a boast of one’s own worthiness, such as one’s accomplishments, ancestry, etc. The latter is a boast of an action one plans to undertake. In order to protect the luck of the hall, such boasts are subject to challenge by the thyle, whose job it is to make sure that unlucky boasts do not contaminate the luck of all present. “

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