Jägermeister is a herbal liqueur which has become quite popular for some time now, especially among the young public. There are some enigmas surrounding the famous brand, starting with its ingredients, jealously hidden by the company. As with Coca Cola, only some of the 56 herbs, roots and flowers that make up its formula have been revealed.
The liqueur was conceived in 1934 by Curt Mast, a German vinegar producer from Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony, Germany. Mast was a hunting enthusiast and perhaps that is why he baptized his potion with the name of “Jägermeister”, master hunter in German, a term that would have been introduced at that time through the Reich’s National Hunting Act to refer to foresters and high-ranking forestry officials of the German public administration. Other tributes to hunting and hunters are the poem by Oskar von Riesenthal that surrounds the label (“This is the hunters’ honour shield, which he protects and looks after his game, Huntsman hunts, as it should be, the Creator in the creatures honours”) and, obviously, the deer, but why does a luminous cross appear between its antlers? To understand this, let’s go back to the 7th-8th centuries A.D.
During that period of the High Middle Ages lived a young man of noble descent named Hubertus, who would eventually become the patron saint of hunters. Fond of hunting (sometimes too much), he used to forget his religious duties. Legend has it that one Good Friday morning, instead of being at mass with the rest of the faithful, he was hunting in a forest in the Ardennes region. Suddenly he came across an imposing deer. Preparing to hunt such a beautiful specimen, the animal turned around and Hubert could see a luminous cross levitating between its antlers. His surprise increased when he heard that God was warning him through the deer:
“Hubert unless thou turnest to the Lord and leadest a holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into Hell”
Despite the shock, the hunter was able to ask the sacred deer what to do, to which the latter urged him to seek out Lamberto, his spiritual guide. Other versions of the legend point to the immoral behavior that Hubertus had towards animals, so the divine reprimand would have been aimed at improving his behavior and making the hunter see the respect that the animals deserved for being God’s creation. Thus, Hubertus is considered by many to be the initiator of ethical rules in hunting (remember the poem of the Jägermeister label). Interestingly, this legend was previously attributed to St. Eustace, a Roman general converted to Christianity in the 2nd century A.D.
Be that as it may, that mystical experience completely transformed Hubert, who donated all his possessions and followed the honorable path of austerity and simplicity with his master Lambert. He thus became bishop of Maastricht and then of Liège, a city in present-day Belgium where St. Hubert had a cathedral built to deposit the remains of his master.
Hubert would die peacefully between 727 and 728 A.D. His veneration would begin from then on and would end up being concentrated mainly in France and Central Europe, where it is common to see paintings and sculptures of the saint dressed as a bishop or hunter and accompanied by the vision that changed his life. Currently, his feast day is celebrated on November 3. Being the patron saint of hunting and knowing Curt Mast’s fondness for this activity, the raison d’être of the logo of his well-known liqueur now makes sense.
Since we are talking about legends, another much more recent has it that Jägermeister contains deer blood among its ingredients, although the company has actively and passively denied it.
Catholic Online (2021). St. Hubert [online] available in: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=3802
Jägermeister (2021). Home Page [online] available in: https://www.jagermeister.com/es-ES