There's a day dedicated to celebrating just about everything in our culture today, from fried chicken to feral cats to kazoos. The Internet usually loves any excuse to lose its mind over a holiday, but sometimes when you read about holidays like National Microwave Oven Day, you just have to wonder, who comes up with this stuff?
You might have felt that way about National Beer Day too, although I think we can all agree that any excuse to drink more beer needs not be questioned. However, there's actually a good reason why today is National Beer Day, one steeped in our nation's history and Constitution.
To understand the origins of National Beer Day, we have to go all the way back to Jan. 16, 1919, when Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned the making, transportation and sale of alcohol. Thus began the Prohibition era when Americans had to find underground, illicit ways to get their drink on.
A decade after this amendment was passed, the stock market crashed, hurling the United States into the worst economic depression it had ever experienced. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, seeing how the American people weren't really feeling this experiment and knowing that the halting of the production and sale of alcoholic beverages was a major loss of jobs and revenue, he and the new Congress planned to repeal the 18th Amendment. This meant that two-thirds of the states had to ratify the repeal, which would take months.
However, until Congress could pass what would become the 21st Amendment, President Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, 1933, which amended the much-maligned Volstead Act of 1919 to once again allow the sale and consumption of low-alcohol beer and wine in public. The Cullen-Harrison Act went into effect on April 7, 1933, which is why we celebrate National Beer Day on this date.
As you would expect, at 12:01 a.m. on Aprill 7, 1933, Americans took to the streets to express their excitement over being able to legally drink beer again. An estimated $5 million worth of beer was sold in Chicago on this date. This day marks the first introduction of the Budweiser Clydesdales to the public as a way to celebrate the repeal of the prohibition of beer. Anheuser-Busch also delivered a case of Budweiser to President Roosevelt on this date.
Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment in December 1933, effectively voiding the Cullen-Harrison Act. Now 82 years later, we still commemorate the day beer legally came back into our lives by pouring a cold one. And what a wonderful thing to celebrate, indeed.
Photo: Quinn Dombrowski | Flickr