The leaders of the nations play a very crucial role in the society: they are the head of the country or kingdom that people rely on in making decisions, setting rules and regulations, sometimes even the cultures, ideals, and identifying who are enemies and who are allies. They are also important in boosting the morale of the soldiers in times of war or the people overall. With that, here are some feasts, festivals, and celebrations that the emperors, kings, or queens once hosted during their respective times.

When your party made it into the books, you know it’s the real deal.

Hatshepsut’s Festival of the Drunkness

This is a fine relief of members of Hatshepsut’s trading expedition to the mysterious ‘Land of Punt’ from this pharaoh’s elegant mortuary temple at Deir El-Bahri. (ΣταύροςCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

What’s a festival without booze? Ancient Egypt took that to a different level with the Tekh Festival, or the Feast of Drunkness that happened once a year during the reign of Hatshepsut in the 15th century BC. This was done to commemorate the myth about a bloodthirsty warrior goddess named Sekhmet, whom Ra sent after becoming tired of humans’ cruelty and nonsense. Mankind was saved from this havoc when the goddess of beer, Tenenet, dyed tons of beer red, and thinking it was blood, Sekhmet chugged it down. She passed out drunk and woke up as the gentle Hathor. To celebrate salvation, the Egyptians would spend the evening grooving to the music, engaging in casual sex, and drinking mugs after mugs of frothy beer until they passed out. In the morning, they were woken by the sound of the sacred drums.

Isabeau’s Ball of the Burning Men

The French Queen Isabeau of Bavaria hosted a lavish banquet on January 28, 1939, at Hôtel Saint-Pol in Paris to honor the remarriage of a lady-in-waiting. The highlight of the celebration that evening was a dance performance involving King Charles VI of France, along with five members of the French nobility. Each of them was clad in a woodland “wild man” costume that was made of linen and flax and oakum fibers. Four of the dancers died while performing as Charle’s brother and Duke of Orleans Louis I arrived with a lit torch and moved too close. He accidentally ignited the flammable costumes, thus starting a blaze that quickly spread to the rest of the performers. King Charles managed to survive after an aunt covered him with her skirt, extinguishing the fire that could’ve otherwise injured him. The other man dived into a tank of wine and saved himself. The rest were engulfed and killed in flames. Now that’s a whole new kind of “killer party.”

Qing Emperor Kangxi’s 66th Birthday

Emperor Kangxi in his late 60s
Emperor Kangxi in his late 60s. (Author of Qing Dynasty, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

When members of the Manchu ethnic group started taking over ministry positions that were held by the ethnic Han for a long time, Qing Emperor Kangxi himself included, he decided that the best way to alleviate the tension and unify the population was through a feast. Apparently, the best way to a population’s heart is through the stomach. So on his 66th birthday, he threw a three-day feast, with the banquet filled with 2,500 guests served with wine and 300 different dishes and snacks— dumplings, roasted ducks and pigs, and dishes known as the “32 delicacies.” These were rather interesting food that included bear paws, camel humps, bird’s nests, leopard fetuses, and monkey brains.

The “meat gatherings” spared no expense, as even the rival ministers who attended the party were given enormous food servings. Those who asked for more servings were greeted with immense gratitude while “anyone who failed to finish at least one plate of meat would be met with contempt.”

Emperor Kangxi’s feast was so well-known that some of China’s restaurants still serve multi-course feasts inspired by the Machu Han’s menu.

As Atlas Obscura published on their website in 2019,

In 2010, Beijing restaurant Cui Yuan charged well-heeled customers $54,000 to indulge in 268 dishes over the course of a year for an ‘Imperial Feast’ that included minced swan, deer’s lips, and peacock drumsticks. According to a press release, Fook Lam Moon’s feasts will run until the end of 2019, ‘encapsulating 5,000 years of Chinese history, drawing from the culinary traditions of China’s different ethnic groups.’ All claim to have served the most authentic of recipes. Yet there was never an official menu to begin with, much less recipes.

Nonetheless, the rather gluttonous banquets symbolized their nation’s unity.