#5 – Festivus (Dec. 23rd)
A holiday that gets most of it’s origin from the TV series Seinfeld. Writer Daniel O’Keefe introduced the world to Festivus during the episode “The Strike” in 1997. The holiday is a reaction to the mass commercialism of the holiday season. With aluminum poles, feats of strength, and airing of grievances this holiday is an excellent way to celebrate the previous year. Festivus is celebrated traditionally on Dec. 23rd, allowing everyone to share in celebration before joining with family for other holiday celebrations. Have a brew and possibly you too will have a Festivus miracle!
#4 – Saint Arnold’s Feast Day (July 8th)
“From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.”
The research covering holidays connected to brew had some major gaps in historical ties. I had originally planned on finding some very obscure holidays (there are plenty, such as Talk Like a Pirate Day), but ran into some roadblocks. Most brew holidays just did not have the credentials to be considered a legitimate holiday. Then I came across good old Saint Arnold, the patron saint of breweries and hop-pickers.
There are some holes in the story of Saint Arnold, but it is generally agreed he was a monk living in France around 1000 AD. Eventually he rose to the rank of Bishop and was challenged by another for the title. Instead of fighting, Arnold retired and returned to the monastery where he became a brewer. He then encouraged people to drink beer rather than water, which ran risk of carrying disease. One of his many miracles occurred as the people were carrying his body to the cemetery. It is said that the group of people stopped at a pub for a brew, but were dismayed to find only one glass of beer available. The mug lasted for the entire crowd, and everyone was able to have their “fill”. This is what holidays are built around: history and miracles.
Read more on Saint Arnold at: http://www.beerchurch.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1888
#3 – St. Patrick’s Day (Mar. 17th)
Another cultural holiday that has emerged as an American celebration. St. Patrick’s day started in Ireland and is the annual feast day for St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. As immigrants came to the United States the holiday became a celebration in areas with large populations of Irish. Most people think of green beer when they think of St. Patrick’s Day, simply normal beer colored with green dye. Many urban areas across the country have parades to celebrate, as well as many brewpubs offering a great variety of green beer, Guinness-like stouts, and Irish whiskey. Cozy up with a nice cold green beer, because on this day, everyone has a little Irish in them.
#2 – Oktoberfest (September 19th – October 4th)
Earlier I mentioned that it was tough to judge cultural holidays because of how they are represented across different regions in the United States. Cinco de Mayo is just starting to be celebrated where I live (Kansas). Oktoberfest on the other hand, has been part of Kansas history since it became a state in 1861. Most of the immigrants to Kansas were of German, Czech or Bohemian ancestry. In fact, up until World War I, half of the papers printed in Kansas were printed in German.
Oktoberfest is a sixteen day long party in which Germans basically celebrate being German. Large portions of food. Larger portions of beer. A visitor once commented that Munich during Oktoberfest was “the happiest place on earth”. The traditional beer for Oktoberfest is actually brewed in March and is called Marzen (German for March). Oktoberfest is meant to be celebrated as a community, so find a local town or group that puts an annual festival, and celebrate like you’re in a Hacker-Festzelt (Oktoberfest tent).
#1 – Repeal Day (Dec. 5th)
A stirring day that should live in history for all Americans, not just beer lovers. Dec. 5th, 1933 the government and people of the United States realized they had made a big mistake in banning the sale of alcohol. The rise of organized crime and tough economic times helped legalize the ability for the common Joe to enjoy a nice brew after work. Repeal Day has all the benchmarks of the ideal beer drinker’s holiday: a reason to celebrate, historical and governmental ties, the revitalization of an industry which had almost disappeared, an announcement to the world that the US would no longer over look the wants of it’s average working citizen. Some states continued to enforce Prohibition to different extents. In Kansas for example, Prohibition was created in 1881 and did not fully end until after WWII. Prior to Prohibition, Kansas had over 90 breweries (http://www.kcpt.org/tapping_kc/prohib/ksprohib.html) which catered to a mostly German population. On Dec. 5th celebrate the freedoms you have in America by remembering the tragedy that our ancestors fought to end.
Just missing the list: Earth Day, April Fool’s Day, National Beerpong Day, National Beer Day (Iceland)
With the recent inauguration of Barrack Obama, my co-workers and I began discussing whether there should be work on Inauguration Day. There were some good comments: “we’ll spend Tuesday watching it at work anyway”, “this event is historic”, and “this event will give a glimpse into the next four years of our lives”. With all the talk about holidays I began to ponder which holidays weren’t receiving their full due. And so, without further ado, I present the top 10 holidays to have a beer.
Here are my top 10, with some you may have heard of and hopefully a few surprises. A side-note, I will not be including “major” holidays.
#10 – Inauguration Day (Jan. 20, 2008)
Granted it only occurs once every four years (sometimes eight), this is a time for celebration for people living across the country. I have never seen more people involved in politics than the fever pitch that surrounded Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. The real question with this “holiday” is whether it will continue to be the event which it was in 2009. Here’s to hoping it remains an important day in the minds of all Americans.
#9 – Black Friday (Friday after Thanksgiving)
A day some people look forward to…and others dread. I myself am not a shopper and have a tough time convincing myself to help the economy by getting lost in a seemingly endless crowd of fussy shoppers. What better time to skip the long lines at the malls and relax at your favorite brewpub? Watch everyone else fight over who gets the last Turbo-Man doll while enjoying a nice craft brew. Not only do you save yourself some stress, but you are also doing your job as an American: helping the economy! Win-Win situation!
#8 – Cinco de Mayo (May 5th)
When I originally presented this list to my brother, he was a bit taken back that I had Cinco de Mayo at #8. My theory with holidays’ based on certain cultures is the closer or more exposure you have to that culture, the more important their holidays seem. Living in Kansas, we are slowly beginning to experience the fun of Cinco de Mayo. Another issue with Cinco de Mayo is the beverage I first think of when celebrating is tequila….not beer.
Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16th). The holiday celebrates a victory of Mexican forces over French forces in the 1860s. The Battle of Puebla, near east-central Mexico, took place May 5, 1862. Over the last decade or so, the holiday has come to represent pride in Mexican culture and history. Chances are the weather will be beautiful; grab a case of cerveza and enjoy your back patio with some friends.
#7 – Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd)
This holiday might seem a bit strange for drinking a beer, but it is one of my personal favorites. Most people don’t celebrate Groundhog’s Day…with the exception of the people living in Punxsutawney, PA and or working in elementary schools. Groundhog’s Day originates in the Eastern part of the United States, in areas with deep German ancestry. If the groundhog “sees” his shadow, winter lasts an additional six weeks.
To celebrate Groundhog’s Day, grab a case of brew and watch the classic Groundhog’s Day film starring Bill Murray. Then plan your next six weeks of brewing enjoyment. Six more weeks of winter? Brew an additional stout or porter. Summer right around the corner? Time to brew that pale ale! Who knew marmots could have such an impact on our brew choice.
#6 – National Homebrew Day (May 7th)
While I was doing some research for this article, I could NOT come up with a National Beer Day in the United States. The closest I could seem to get was National Homebrew Day, a holiday created by Charlie Papazian…the George Washington of homebrewers in the United States. Charlie’s books are must haves for any homebrewer and under his leadership the American Homebrewer’s Association and the Association of Brewers has become the premier brewing organization in America. Plan ahead and brew your own batch to celebrate National Homebrew Day, and as Charlie says “Relax. Have a homebrew.”