Mate’ Communion

Argentina is well-known for its yerba mate’ culture. Mate’ is everywhere here—sitting at the ready in the cubicles at my English students’ workplace, enjoyed during my Spanish classes, passed around at the language intercambio on Tuesdays.

There is much to say about mate’ and the way it facilitates social relationships. Here’s the rough & dirty of the tradition: yerba mate’ is placed into a shared cup (often with sugar) and passed around the group. Everyone drinks through a straw and the cup is refilled regularly.

It’s really a beautiful tradition.

The other day, it dawned on me that it’s a lot like Catholic Communion. A community of people sharing in this goodness. There’s no fear of the exchange of germs, there’s no concern about running out of yerba. The sharing of mate facilitates conversation, makes people relax, and encourages a warm, open environment. When someone pulls out the mate’, the entire mood of a conversation shifts into companionship.

The historical roots of Communion are similar—a meal shared, conversation enjoyed, people together. That’s how mate’ feels too—time together, a chance to chat with people.

I love that there are the connections in our rituals. It reminds me that we humans have a sort of instinctual need to share with one another. It makes me feel hopeful.

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