The ancient and holy rite of Sumble is, for all intents and purposes, a formal series of toasts. This rite was so widespread that it survives to this day in such places as wedding traditions, award ceremonies, banquets, as well as around the Thanksgiving dinner table.
This rite is one the most loved in today’s practice of Asatru. A horn is passed from participant to participant, who raise a toast in their turn. It is a moment when each person has the attention of all gathered, to honor a favorite ancestor, a patron deity, share a special bit of news, or announce a noble intention.
The format that we usually follow is this –
- The Sumble is formally opened by the Godhi.
- The first round of toasts is offered to the Gods, the Aesir and Vanir (The Godhi’s toast is offered to the Allfather).
- The second round is offered to the ancestors, heroes, or family members.
- The third round is an open round.
- The remainder of the Sumble is varied depending upon the will of those gathered.
- The Sumble is formally closed.
- A very large horn is often used, to allow the horn to pass among the group without the need for frequent refilling.
- In some kindreds, the participants drink from their own horns, and the leader of the sumble- or their designee, usually called the “Valkyrie”- walks around and pours from the horn or pitcher into their horns. It is considered the height of rudeness to drink from a shared horn when ill.
- Most often, beer or ale is used for Sumble, but sometimes mead, wine or some other beverage is used. The less alcoholic beer is perhaps preferred to minimize the possibility of drunkeness – in keeping with the teachings of the Havamal. “Serious” drinking – if that occurs at a celebration, it is after the Sumble is over.
- When children are present, a secondary horn filled with a non-alcoholic beverage is kept handy.