Top 10 Drinking Holidays and Best Drinking Holiday
People have been drinking alcoholic beverages since before history began, and there is archeology to prove it! Alcohol and many holidays are synonymous with each other, and no your uncle Larry getting housed on Thanksgiving doesn’t count. Here are some of the better-known drinking holidays as we have them now.
(observed in Germany)
Oktoberfest officially dates from October 12, 1810. On that date in Munich, Germany, the citizens celebrated the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In reality, a similar festival had already been celebrated at least as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries. The idea was to drink up last year’s beer stocks to make way for new beer to be brewed from the harvest.
Another harvest celebration held at around the same time was the traditional thanksgiving festival of Erntedankefest in the first half of October.
It’s reported that the locals liked the wedding festival so much that they decided to have another festival (minus the wedding) every year thereafter! Oktoberfest has since migrated into late September because it’s warmer and more enjoyable then. It’s the biggest folk festival in the world. And of course it’s all about drinking!
(observed in Brazil, the rest of Latin America, the US, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Quebec, among other places)
Lent is a 40-day fast leading up to Easter. Right before it starts, people have always tended to pack in the food. Over the years, they packed in other things, too.
Now it’s a huge celebration right before Lent – the last party for 40 days. A big part of the celebrations in Brazil, aside from (nearly?) nude Carnival Queens and wild parades shutting down everything else in town, is drinking the delicious national drink caipirinha. It contains lime, sugar, and a traditional liquor called cachaca.
There has been some controversy recently over whether it’s okay to use vodka or sake in place of the native cachaca. There are voices on both sides. But however they make it, millions of Brazilians will drink it down just the same!
3. Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras literally means “Fat Tuesday”. It’s really just another name for the Carnival celebration. The name refers to the indulgence in food and drink we mentioned that happens right before Lent.
Mardi Gras/Carnival is observed (and indulged) throughout countries with a historical Catholic background. Observances in some locales can begin as early as November and all of them run right up to Lent. It’s really more of a season than a holiday.
Wherever it’s celebrated, you’ll find parades, general cutting loose, and it almost goes without saying, drinking.
4. St. Patrick’s Day
(observed in the United States and Ireland)
On March 17, people here and in Ireland put on green clothes and drink a lot. This is St. Patrick’s Day, in honor of the monk who converted the Irish way back when.
People wear green thinking that it’s because of Patrick, but actually his color used to be blue. The green more likely comes from ideas like the “Emerald Isle”, green shamrocks, and the need to wear green to make yourself invisible to leprechauns so they won’t pinch you. They can’t see anything green. It’s like camouflage. Anti-leprechaun camouflage.
So, back to drinking. There’s a story that explains why people drink a lot on this day. It seems that a certain innkeeper once served St. Patrick a miserly portion of whiskey. Patrick pointed out that this was ungenerous of the innkeeper, and told him that there was a huge devil in the innkeeper’s cellar that was feeding on his dishonesty, and would eventually devour the innkeeper too!
This made such an impression on the innkeeper that forever after that, he gave lavish amounts to everyone. St. Patrick approved and in return, proclaimed that all the people should partake of spirits in celebration. The idea caught on, and here we are.
Now, you may the Irish drinking tradition as a stereotype or as a fact. Either way, it’s undeniably on the list!
5. New Year’s Eve
(observed in many, many countries)
Marking the end of the old year and the start of the new, this holiday may be descended from the Roman Saturnalia, when everybody could temporarily forget about the normal rules of society and go crazy for a little while. Need we mention that going crazy has virtually always included drinking?
All over the world, people either keep the ancient tradition going, or else they have adopted it, even when they already had their own New Year holiday! (The Chinese, for example.) Ranging from family get-togethers in some countries to national celebrations in capital cities of others, this may well be the most universal drinking holiday of all.
6. Cinco de Mayo
(observed more in the US than in Mexico)
In 1862, after years of turbulence, a smaller, poorly-equipped Mexican army faced a superior invading force at the Battle of Puebla, and prevailed against great odds. The celebration of that victory continues today, especially in Puebla and north of the border in the US.
Just to be clear, Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. It’s more of a Victorious Underdog Day.
Nowadays in the US the holiday has morphed into more of a “culture day” like St. Patrick’s Day or Chinese New Year. It’s a chance to celebrate our neighbors’ heritage and have a good time together.
So why drink on Cinco de Mayo? Because that’s what people do! Just remember – the Margarita is NOT an official drink of Cinco de Mayo. But don’t let that stop you – if you like it, go for it!
7. Full moon party
(observed in Thailand)
Raging Thai parties on the full moon of every month. Do I need to say more? This tradition started in the 1980 and is known to bring in over 20,000 + people each month. The pictures, videos, and stories produced from Full Moon festivals are legend status. The only reason we decided to rank them so low on this list is because it’s not really a holiday and is celebrated every month and in Thailand.
We won’t argue with anyone claiming this could be #1 on this list, because you might be right.
8. Fourth of July
(mostly in United States)
Yet another opportunity to get together and party, this holiday owes its existence to certain ill-advised policies of a British administration some time ago regarding English interests in America, and the American people’s (yes, they really did already think of themselves that way) response.
These days, the two countries are good friends, but the holiday is still going strong.
One thing to watch out for on this quintessential American holiday is the driving. This is the deadliest drinking holiday in America due to its position in the middle of summer when people want to get away, take road trips, and drink.
Just be careful out there!
9. Super Bowl Sunday
(a football holiday in the United States)
Beer. Wings. Big Screen TVs. Football. Does it get any better than this? Super Sunday is a huge day in America not only for football fans, but also for fans to get their drink on. Only two teams play in the super bowl, so it’s safe to say the majority of the fans watching don’t have a horse in the race. They watch the game for entertainment, parties, and of course the commercials.
10. Thanksgiving Eve
(mostly in the United States)
Some people think that Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. In fact people all over the world have a similar holiday. That’s how Oktoberfest started out.
For Americans it’s a time to give thanks and eat truly harmful amounts of food, and where there’s indulgence in food, you know what comes with it.
The only reason Thanksgiving doesn’t beat out Fourth of July as the deadliest drinking holiday in America is because Thanksgiving is three days before everybody drives back home on Sunday. That allows people enough time to recover, unlike the Fourth.
All we can say about that is have a good time, but be safe too!
- Labor Day (celebrating labor unions and their contributions)
- Easter (United States style)
- La Tomatina (Spain)
- Purim (Israel, others)
- Queens Day (Netherlands)
- Australia Day (Australia)
- Christmas (sinners!)
- Halloween (U.S.)
- and Derby Day (a horseracing holiday in the United States)
Each holiday has its qualifying points.
Labor Day gives us a three-day weekend and the opportunity to party. And we do.
Easter is a holiday rivaling Christmas in the Christian calendar, although not as much is made of it in days off or commercialization. We still enjoy it fully.
Derby Day is sports-related and not as deeply traditional as the other holidays touched on here.
As for the Kentucky Derby, the race itself only lasts two minutes, but it’s an all-day affair. Therefore something else must be going on besides watching the actual race.
The official drink of the Derby is mint juleps, which are delicious and consumed to the tune of over 120,000 per year. Since the race is annual, that means that all those drinks are drunk on or near the day.
In conclusion, let us just say that holidays are part of what makes us human, and a big part of what make life enjoyable. Drinking is usually part of any enjoyable occasion. So get out there and have fun!