The Quest for the Holy Grain
Beer Holidays

 

Every beer drinker knows about Oktoberfest in September, and St. Patrick's Day is a widely celebrated beer drinking holiday, but there are many more Questive Holidays than these. We present some here. We invite each Questor to craft his own beer calendar. Let us know if you think any other Beer Holidays should be considered.

 

 

Snow Day

But when they seldom come, they wish'd for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.

- Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1

Such it is with the Snow Day.
Just when the gloom and drudgery of the Dark Ages become almost unbearable, Mother Nature lets fall her carpet of white crystals, providing the lucky among us with a respite from work and school.
As I type this, my shoulders ache from the removal of 48 inches of this wonderful, wintery topping; but not so much so as to prevent me from hoisting a few cold ones and praying for more tomorrow.

 

 

Game Day

One thing that unites the fans of sports the world over, from football to football, from curling to hurling, is the pleasure of sharing a pint with a fellow fan.
We of the Quest urge all fans to drink responsibly...but if that fails, don't get your picture taken.
And for Americans, the ultimate Game Day is the Super Bowl, when they purchase, on average, nearly 50 million cases of beer.

 

 

St. David's Day - March 1

St. David, or Dewi Sant, is the patron saint of Wales. A sixth-century monk, David spread Christianity throughout western Britain.
Though he only drank water, Welshmen the world over celebrate his feastday, March 1, by church-going, parading, and drinking beer.
It is also customary to wear a leek on this occasion. Questors would be well-advised to cut their leek and leave it in the refrigerator overnight so as not to stink up the merrymaking.
For more information on St. David's Day, ask anyone surnamed Thomas, Davis, Jones, Powell, Burton, or an unpronounceable combination of L's and W's.

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers have an ancient and intriguing custom regarding St. David. On his feastday, the youngest soldier in the company must eat a raw leek with one foot on the table and one on the chair. It is our guess that much ale would then be consumed.

 

 

Rosenmontag
The Monday before
Ash Wednesday

Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) is the culmination of the German Karneval season, and is held every year on Shrove Monday, just before Ash Wednesday.
It is celebrated in all the German speaking countries, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Switzerland.
In the Hochburgen, which are the regions where Fasching culture is strongest, nearly every town will have a parade.
Rosenmontag, like Mardi Gras, or Carnival in the Southern Hemisphere, has its roots in Catholicism, and is the last chance to party riotously before the deprivations that come with Lent.
The big celebration, also known as Fasching, begins on the Thursday before Rosenmontag, and comes to a head on Rosenmontag with street festivals and parades.
The floats in these parades, which are quite colorful, can stand over 20 feet tall, and satirize German customs and rituals.
Some are like 3-D political cartoons, poking fun at political leaders both German and foreign.
The festivities are characterized by parties, dancing, fancy costumes, and, as you may have guessed, heavy drinking.
There is still some subdued celebrating on Shrove Tuesday, and by Ash Wednesday most revelers have ceased, and have the next 40 days to sleep it off.



 

 

 

 

St. Urho's Day - March 16

St. Urho is the legendary saint of Finnish Americans and rose to fame when he drove the grasshoppers out of Finland, thus saving the grape crop.
Questors may want to twist the story to make it the barley crop, or the hops harvest.
His feastday is celebrated by wearing the colors Royal Purple and Nile Green, and the venerable saint is most often portrayed with a grasshopper impaled on a pitchfork.
Man...those were some big grasshoppers!
Questors are encouraged to start their own St. Urho club, or move to Minnesota.

 

St. Patrick's Day
March 17

The patron saint of Ireland,
St. Patrick
drove the snakes out of the Emerald Isle, and banished all vestiges of sobriety from the World as it is now composed.

Patrick spread the Christian faith in the British Isles, and now spreads good cheer on March 17th...the day he died in 460 A.D.

On this very secular religious holiday, Irishmen of all ethnicities celebrate by consuming vast quantities of Guinness, Harp, and anything else in a glass or bottle.
It is said that even NASCAR bars serve green beer on St. Patrick's Day.

 

 

April Fool's Day - April 1

April Fool's Day seems to have evolved from several cultures, and is probably entwined with the ancient celebrations of spring. It dates back at least to the 1500's in France, when people who refused to accept the Gregorian calendar were labeled fools.

In any event, the Questor views April 1 as a time to play harmless pranks on his buddies, such as emptying out their Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, refilling the bottles with Michelob Ultra, and recapping them. Or crazy-gluing their mugs to the table.

It is a time to kill off any winter warmers that are still seeking refuge in your refrigerator, break out the bocks, clean out the fermenters, and sweep away any indolent Irishmen that are still laying about from St. Patrick's Day.

Not long ago on April 1, a San Diego radio station announced that a beer truck had jack-knifed and couldn't be towed until the beer was drained from it's tank. Over 100 people showed up to help drain it. April Fool.

In Singapore, an ad campaign was launched for a new beer, called X.O.; so strong that it must be consumed lying down. Guests were invited to a hotel on April 1st to help drink and launch the product. Again...April Fool.

"However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him." - Nicholas Boileau-Despreaux

"Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed." - Mark Twain

 

King Gambrinus Day
April 11

King Gambrinus is the legendary Flemish king whose birthday is celebrated on April 11.
Whether he is the 13th century duke also called Jan Primus, or John the Fearless of the 15th century, Gambrinus is usually the man who gets credit for adding hops to malted brews to get something near to what we drink today.
So next April 11 hoist a big one to
King Gambrinus, whoever he was.

 

 

Cinco de Mayo
May 5

Cinco de Mayo, which this year falls, I believe, on May 5th, is celebrated in the United States and parts of Mexico. It commemorates the Mexican army's victory over the French in the
Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Cinco de Mayo is America's 5th largest beer-drinking holiday, necessitating the consumption of about 54 million cases of brew.

 

Father's Day
Third Sunday in June

What do you get for the man who has everything?
Beer! That's what.
For this reason, Father's Day has become the 4th greatest beer-drinking holiday with nearly 58 million cases sold annually.
How can you not enjoy a beer? The weather's warm, and for any Questors who happen to be teachers, school just got out for the summer.
Woo hoo.

 

Memorial Day - Fourth of July - Labor Day

These feasts are all particularly American and are treated pretty much the same, beer-wise. Americans drink over 180 million cases of beer over these three holidays combined! Sadly, too many of our fellow Americans are settling for macro-brewed Lite beers, and lighter-than-air low-carb beverages for warm weather consumption.

We of the Quest suggest that as the warm weather approaches, beer-lovers look to the many craft-brewed lagers and pilseners that are readily available. Ring in May with a Maibock, and how about a good German hefeweizen for the summer? By the time Labor Day is upon us, so are the Oktoberfests.

"People who drink light beer don't like the taste of beer; they just like to pee a lot."
... Capital Brewery, Middleton, WI

 

St. Arnold's Day - Patron Saint of Brewers

July 18

Our research is shrouded in mystery, and cloaked in enigma. Is the patron saint of brewers the Austrian, St. Arnold, Bishop of Metz, who died in 540, or the Flemish Arnoldus of Soisson, a bishop who was born in 1040?

In any event, Arnold was a man of God who traveled widely, urging people to drink beer and not water; sound advice in the days of pox, vermin and plague. He was fond of blessing the brew kettles, and once ended a plague by dipping his crucifix in one.

While mourners were carrying Arnold's body to its final resting place, they stopped to quench their thirst, but found only one mug of beer left. Miraculously, all drank their fill, and the mug never emptied. If this doesn't qualify one for sainthood, what will?

St. Arnold is commemorated either in July or August. The Belgians seem to venerate St. Arnold the most, so you may wish seek out a real Belgian and ask him or her to shed some light on this conundrum.

 

 

Oktoberfest - Late September

Oktoberfest commemorates the 1810 royal wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese. Today, Oktoberfest has become the biggest public festival in the world, annually attracting some 6 million visitors who consume 1.5 million gallons of beer.

 

Saint Monday
Any Monday

It seems that during the 1800's, minor craftsmen and skilled laborers in England such as engineers, tailors, and springmakers were fond of taking Mondays off and telling the boss they had gone to a "union meeting." They would then congregate at the pub and honor the venerable St. Monday.

"Brother workmen, cease your labour,
Lay your files and hammers by.
Listen while a brother neighbour
Sings a cutler's destiny:
How upon a good Saint Monday,
Sitting by the smithy fire,
We tell what's been done o't Sunday,
And in cheerful mirth conspire."

 

 

Halloween - October 31

What the heck? It's our last chance to enjoy the Oktoberfest beers, there's a chill in the air, the high-octane winter warmers are just becoming available, and if you get inebriated on Halloween and do something stupid, at least you were wearing a mask!

 

Payday

It is the right of every workingman, when the whistle sounds on Friday, to head to the tavern and drown the troubles of the work week in his favorite liquid refreshment. This is sound fiscal advice. If he didn't spend his money on beer, he would probably just squander it.

"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar."

...Drew Carey

 

 

St. Stephen's Day - December 26

St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr, having been stoned to death in 36 AD. His feastday is a good time to decompress after the stress of Christmas.

In Ireland, St. Stephen is closely associated with the wren. As the legend goes, St. Stephen was hiding out from a mob, but was betrayed by the chirping of a wren, and thus came to be stoned.

On this day, small boys are encouraged to kill a wren, and parade the body from door to door, asking for money to bury the wee critter. Funds collected are used to throw a party for the village, at which they perform the "wren dance."

St. Stephen can also aid beer drinkers in that his name in invoked to cure headaches.

 

 

New Year's Eve

December 31

 

 

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" ....Ben Franklin

If Franklin didn't say this...he should have.