Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Eat, Drink And Be Merry

Posted by Elyse Bruce on September 13, 2010

The phrase “eat, drink and be merry” has been around quite some time.  In fact,  in 1932, Baltimore resident Frederick Philip Stieff published a collection of hundreds of recipes from handwritten recipe books and the title of that cookbook was none other than “Eat, Drink and Be Merry.”

Perhaps Frederick Philip Stieff had come across the copy of the Ashburton Guardian somewhere along the way as this newspaper carried a news story on page 3 entitled “Happiest Of All” and published  in the June 16, 1896 edition where the last two lines read: 

Happiest, perhaps, of all are they who have been lifted up by Mother Siegel’s remedy and placed where once again they can eat, drink and be merry.  And if all these could be gathered together they would make a greater host than the Greek poet ever dreamed of.

Still, the history of the phrase appears to go back at least to a restaurant founded in 1793 and located high above Paris on Montmartre’s Place du Tertre.  The historic eatery knowns as La Mère Cathérine — where the term bistro was first coined — saw Georges Jacques Danton, one of the leaders of the French Revolution and the first President of the Committee of Public Safety scratch the phrase  “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die” into the walls of this legendary establishment. 

Some will tell you that the phrase comes from Dante‘s “Inferno” completed in 1321 but the truth of the matter is, the phrase is much, much older than that and actually comes from the Bible.

More often than not, the phrase is used out of its original context with its meaning reversed. Paul used this quote from Isaiah 22:13 in 1 Corinthians 15:32 where he wrote: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”  Paul’s intention was to show the pointlessness of life for Christians if there was no belief in the resurrection.  If a Christian did not believe in the resurrection, he might as well enjoy himself as much as possible since there would be nothing to look forward to in death.

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One Response to “Eat, Drink And Be Merry”

  1. […] Bruce, Elyse. “Eat, Drink And Be Merry.” Historically Speaking. 13 Sept 2010. Web. Retrieved 21 July 2017. Web. <https://idiomation.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/eat-drink-and-be-merry/&gt;. […]

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