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Baptism with beer - did that really exist?

Were there baptisms with beer back in the day? The answer: Yes! But not for long - because one person was not ok with it...

A baptism with beer? Almost unimaginable! But, according to tradition, it is said to have been the case in Norway in former times that not water, but rather beer was used to anoint the children´s heads during baptism. And why? It seems there were two reasons – both born from necessity. When temperatures were very cold, the water froze very quickly, beer on the other hand much more slowly due to the alcohol content. The second reason: this type of baptism apparently took place only in a region of Norway where water was scarce. Sounds admittedly strange of course: water scarce, beer available? The way it is generally explained is that the water available was possibly not clean enough – but there is no conclusive explanation in the end.

In the year 1241, however, it came to Pope Gregory IX´s attention and he wrote a letter to the Norwegian Bishop Sigurd von Trondheim. In this letter, he quoted from the Gospel of Saint John, in which it states that no one can enter the kingdom of God “unless they are born of water and the Spirit”. In short: the Pope declared baptism with beer for null and void.