Mugs are universally considered as informal drinking utensils which would generally not be used, in any formal setting for which we would use cups and saucers which has been the norm, over the ages after etiquette and discipline came into our eating and drinking habits.
Until that time most people drank their fluids, be it water, hot beverages and even alcohol in mugs which were very crudely turned out drinking utensils other than those used by people of a higher status in life. Even the rulers at the time drank their beverages, because there was no coffee or tea as we know of them today but whatever they consumed in liquid form were drunk off mugs with handles.
Though cups and saucers were introduced the use of the mug as a drinking utensil never faded away and is still popular among many who would prefer to drink their morning cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate in their own mug enjoying every drop of it.
Mugs were very popular in the early days of history where formal drinking was not practiced and prehistoric humans turned out mugs from hollow bones of animals, wood or clay which invariably had a handle to hold whilst drinking.
To be called a mug, the drinking utensil would need to have a handle which would be proportionately as large as the container itself and two or more fingers would need to be conveniently wrapped around the handle to hold it comfortably. Prehistoric artifacts that have been unearthed have shown that large mugs were used during the early and middle ages where drinking alcohol became a very popular habit among many.
These mugs were of varying sizes and were made of different materials where the ordinary folk of the time drank their beverages whatever that would be in clay, wood, or even steel after it was discovered, whilst the rulers had their mugs turned out even in gold and silver.
The mugs that were used in prehistoric days had thick walls and though people drank from them it was quite uncomfortable to place it between the two lips whilst guiding the beverage from the mug into the mouth. It was just a case of technology that they lacked but with time the openings of the mugs became thinner and it was much more easier to drink off them and this is very much in evidence from the few mugs that have survived and which have been studied that were made around 6500 years BCE.
Mugs as a drinking utensil has been in use for a very long time and some have been unearthed that have had elaborate cravings on them but the early wooden ones have not survived which is understandable, as they are prone to decay.
It could be safely assumed that it would have been wood which was easier to turn out and found in abundance that would have been the material that early man would have used to make mugs for their drinking purposes.
Present day Mugs
Mugs are very popular drinking utensils in the present day, and are used to drink our hot beverages like coffee, tea, hot chocolate and other beverages and with a handle that could easily slip our fingers through, it holds well and each of us would have a distinct style when we sip our drink.
One cold drink that is universally presented in style especially in bars and pubs, is beer and it is still retaining that old charm which many like to imbibe holding the beer mug stylishly slipping all four fingers through and holding the mug tightly whilst drinking their beer. Beer mugs are generally thick walled and made of glass and the beer inside with its distinct color does really add to the personal preferences of beer connoisseurs all over the world.
Except beer mugs which could be large to accommodate a quarter or pint other mugs would be large enough to hold a beverage of about 8 to 12 US fluid ounces. These mugs are made today from ceramic, bone china, porcelain, earthenware, stoneware and even in steel and strengthened clear plastic.
Most of them are kiln dried and are breakable if dropped especially the ceramic, porcelain and others and they are also printed with different designs and logos for advertising purposes which has become a very common practice today.
Mugs have been given a special place today with most households using mugs to drink their hot beverages and some are even personalized with appropriate prints on them to identify to whom it would belong in the home.
Mugs are preferred for outdoor use because they are practical and could be conveniently held in the hand and beverages drunk in a very easy and relaxed mood and setting. One important criteria would be that the mugs need to be unbreakable, to meet that requirement they are made of hardened plastic, enameled metal and others, that could hold very hot beverages.
Some mugs are available where the walls around and at the bottom are insulated within and could hold and retain hot beverages, longer than if they were in other types of mugs. Mugs could also have small openings at the top which could be closed with a lid so that drinking would be easy whilst holding the beverage as hot as possible for longer to enjoy the drink as hot as it should be.