Why Argentina celebrates this popular unifying drink and why on November 30th?
In Argentina, drinking mate is more than just about drinking a hot infusion that has been credited with “the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea and the euphoria of chocolate,” by Guayaki. On a cultural scale, mate to Argentina is what tea ceremonies are to Japan. Mate is synonymous with friendship, bonding and sharing. According to the official bulletin, November 30th was chosen to commemorate the birth date of Andrés Guacurarí y Artigas (AKA Andresito), the first indigenous Argentine governor in the early 1800s.
Some of the benefits of drinking mate are: It increases energy levels, boosts mental functions, it is loaded with vitamins, mineral and antioxidants, boosts the immune system, helps weight loss, keeps our hearts healthy, builds strong bones and has a long history as an elimination tonic. Plus, mate has higher polyphenol and antioxidant counts than both green and black teas. Indeed, it does sound rather appropriate to have the drink officially praised.
In Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil, “the Drink of the Gods” is the national drink and is consumed six to one over coffee. According to The National Institute of Yerba Mate Institute, in Argentina, “around 256 million kilos of yerba mate are consumed yearly.” This works out as a 6.4 kg annual consumption per capita, which is almost as much as the annual Argentine ice-cream consumption.
The combination of social, cultural and health factors led to official recognition by law, and is now commemorated as a National Day.
Here is some mate vocab for y’all to reach aficionado status:
Cebador: He or she who prepares the mate gourd and stays in charge of serving it and refilling for others.
Mate: (mate gourd) The traditional vessel used to prepare yerba mate. Used in conjunction with a bombilla.
Bombilla: A metal or bamboo straw-like infuser with a filtered tip used to sip yerba mate.
Mateado: the state of clarity and exuberance of being under a healthy dose of mate. (Basically, to be understood as “drunk” or “high” on mate.)
Mate can be drank alone (that is, only you), but it is always best to share it with others —it is a social tradition, more than anything—. When you share a mate, you pass it in a circle, and each person drinks from the same mate. The 'cebador' always takes the first mate, and then stuffs it and gives it to the second person. When he finishes it, he returns it to the same 'cebador'. The 'cebador' refills it and passes it to the next person, and so on, until the circle is completed several times.