I just read an article (linked below) about something that took place 500 years ago today. And to be honest, I'm a little surprised that it didn't make bigger news. After all, 500 years is a long time, at least it is to me.
It was 500 years ago today, on October 31, 1517 that a German Catholic priest named Martin Luther kicked off a series of events that we know today as the Reformation. Since I no longer have an interest in religion, the anniversary of this event wasn't something that would normally come to my attention. However, it appears that more than just religion was reformed back then.
Apparently, in 1517 the Catholic Church brewed most of the beer to be had back then in its many monasteries. And as the article says, the Church essentially held a monopoly on beer, ". . . since it held the monopoly on gruit – the mixture of herbs and botanicals (sweet gale, mug wort, yarrow, ground ivy, heather, rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, cinnamon) used to flavor and preserve beer. Hops, however, were not taxed. Considered undesirable weeds, they grew plentifully and vigorously . . ."
And so it was that one of the blessed side effects of the Reformation was to replace the Catholic Church's exclusive herb combination with hops, which has resulted in the fine beers that are available all over the world today, regardless of one's religious affiliation.
Before reading that article, I also hadn't realized that the Reformation began on All Hallows Eve. Since I am a fan of both Halloween and of beer, from now on, as I have a glass of Guinness on Halloween in honor of my Irish ancestors (who had their own forms of worship on this day), at the same time I will also remember that brave soul, Martin Luther, who took a huge step to begin breaking the chains of superstition that enslave so many humans yet today.
Photo: Lorenzo with two of his children celebrating Halloween in the 1970s.