(~180 words, ~1 minute)
My Twitter background image is one of many renditions of the Chinese subject of the “Vinegar Tasters”. Vinegar represents life, and when Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tzu taste it, they detect very different flavors.
As far as I’ve gathered, this traditional “vinegar tasting” has never been much more than an occasional inspiration for a painting. It’s never been practiced as a ritual.
In Christianity, vinegar doesn’t represent anything in particular, but it stands in relation to wine (which is symbolically *loaded*) much like wine stands in relation to grape juice—hinting at acyclic death and rebirth.
Vinegar has never been the primary drink used in the Christian Eucharist, but it has been used on various occasions, often with some kind of allusion to Jesus being pressed to consume vinegar while on the cross.
In Islam and Judaism, vinegar is (or can easily be made) halal and kosher.
Tasting vinegar while reflecting on life and death and the mysteries of their interdependence is thus an incredibly accessible ritual that weaves together millennia of symbology across world religions. I do it every New Moon, when the Moon is reborn.