In honor of one of the greatest drinking holidays of all, PJ has invited me to write about festivities during which we raise way more than one glass. On the few days each year that I see more than the usual amounts of people stuffing into bars, often dressed similarly and typically drinking up an expensive bar tap, I wonder whether people know why they’re doing what they’re doing. Therefore, I’ve compiled a triumvirate of drinking holidays and a bit o’ history.
St. Patrick’s claim to fame has to do with ridding Ireland of snakes, and thus he is logicially the patron saint of ophidophobics (those with a fear of snakes), but what does that have to do with overindulging in green beer? Also, let’s remember that St. Patty’s Day occurs during Lent, which is when Roman Catholics are really supposed to be abstaining from the fun stuff. Interestingly enough, on the rare occasion that St. Patrick’s Day is during Holy Week, the Church just ups and moves his feast day to the next available day. The reason why people drink on St. Patrick’s Day is to celebrate being Irish and thus consuming all things Irish, like Guinness and Jameson.
Anyone who can tell me what Cinqo de Mayo is in honor of gets a high five. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? To me, this drinker’s holiday is even more outrageous because the day commemorates Mexican forces’ defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, but only very few people in Mexico celebrate the holiday and not nearly to the degree as those of us to the north. The celebrations outside of Mexico pay homage to Mexican pride, and hence Mexican alcohol is typically the drink of choice.
I thought I was going to find that Oktoberfest was all about beer, but the first holiday was really just a super long wedding reception in honor of the nuptuals between Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1818. Yet, today it has the distinction of being one of, if not the, most important beer holidays and is 17 or 18 days long, depending on the year. To celebrate Oktoberfest in the best fashion, one must make the pilgrimage to Munich, where the Big Six (Lowenbrau, Hofbrau, Augustiner, Spaten, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr) supply the beer and 6.2 million people are there to drink it.
Although this post seems like an exercise in pursuit of trivial knowledge, I want to encourage all you revelers to know your roots. One reason behind creating a beverage that will be enjoyed and desired is to put something in your hands which is worthy of a toast to pay tribute to whichever historical holiday feeds your fancy. Cheers to whichever saint, national pride or marriage you support and if you think just any old day isn’t a holiday, I’m sure we can find some historical event worth cheersing.