Although the ancient Egyptians were largely a diligent, hard-working group, they also knew when to relax and have a good, carefree time. Festivals were extremely commonplace in ancient Egypt, whether they were centered on the changing of seasons, flooding, religious happenings or any number of other things. Ancient Egyptian festivals typically involved music, dancing and feasting.
Although extremely rich ancient Egyptians were able to dine on meat regularly, it was typically reserved for special occasions for the rest of the society. Valuable meat was for the most part saved for feasts during festivals and private gatherings at homes. Goat, sheep, antelope, ostrich, fish, duck, quail, goose, mutton, gazelle and beef all were common meats available at ancient Egyptian festivals. Meat was frequently roasted.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables were commonly served during festival celebrations, as well. The produce was usually available in sizable baskets. Festival guests munched on fruits and vegetables such as pomegranates, grapes, squash, dates, figs, cucumbers, radishes and lentils. Figs were frequently prepared in stewed and honeyed form, too.
Desserts also were fixtures at festivals in ancient Egypt. The dessert menus at ancient Egyptian feasts often featured sweet bread, raisin bread, fried pastries, sweetmeats and honey cakes. Because ancient Egypt didn't have sugar, the sweetness in these baked items typically came either from honey or dates. A lot of ancient Egyptian sweet treats had a somewhat gravelly texture. Cheese was frequently seen alongside desserts at ancient Egyptian festivals.
Although not "foods," beer and wine were both commonplace at ancient Egyptian festivals, too. Beer was produced through fermentation of barley, and wine was produced from various types of grapes. Festive occasions for privileged ancient Egyptians not only frequently called for wine made at home, but also for varieties imported from foreign regions, specifically those in the eastern region of the Mediterranean Sea. Some ancient Egyptians didn't know when to stop drinking, and intoxication, as a result, was somewhat of a regular occurrence at festivals and other social gatherings.
Festival Food Gifts
Ancient Egyptians at public festivals were frequently offered food gifts, even when the events were crowded. Ancient Egyptians who celebrated at festivals based around the goddess Isis often walked away with a plethora of edibles including waterbirds, geese, vegetables, fruit, meat and salt. They were even offered beverages -- wine and beer.
- Ancient Egypt; Stewart Ross
- Ancient Egypt; Kathleen W. Deady
- A Short History of Ancient Egypt; T.G.H. James
- Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; Margaret Bunson
- Ancient Egypt; Suzanne Brown
- Ancient Egypt; Anne McRae and Loredana Agosta
- A Companion to Ancient Egypt; Alan B. Lloyd
- You Are in Ancient Egypt; Ivan Minnis
- Entertaining From Ancient Rome to the Superbowl; Melitta Weiss Adamson and Francine Segan
- Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt; Rosalie David
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images