Come one, come all! It’s National Happy Hour Day!
Who doesn’t love a happy hour? I know I sure do! Not only do you get bargain drinks, but spotting a happy hour sign can also be the instigator of a cheeky drink, or maybe even a surprise evening! Happy hours are a magical time where anything can happen. But one thing’s for sure, you’ll enjoy a tasty tipple or two.
But where does the idea of ‘happy hour’ come from? Let's start from the beginning, shall we? These two words have appeared together for centuries to describe fun and well, happy times. Shakespeare himself used the phrase in his play King Henry V. The line reads, “Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour/That may give furtherance to our expedition.” Happy times indeed.
Since the 1880s, the phrase has been commonly used to name social clubs, incidentally they were mostly women's ones. Then the term was used by the US Navy, to describe a scheduled period of entertainment. This was one of the first times the phrase was used in this sense and it was all the way back in 1913, over a hundred years ago! A group called the Happy Hour Social organised a social club on board USS Arkansas that put on various happy hour events, comprised of all sorts of entertainment from boxing, to wrestling, from dancing to movies. And, by the end of World War 1, happy hours were commonplace in the Navy and made for a good break from the seriousness of service. N
Interestingly, during the prohibition era, people would host happy hours that were in fact cocktail hours at a speakeasy before eating at a restaurant, where they wouldn’t be able to get a drink with their meal, and there were secret cocktail lounges for afterwards. This cultural affair has continued long past the day the US could legally drink again.
The phrase was eventually included in The Random House Dictionary of American slang in 1959, affirming it as an official term in language. Since then ‘happy hour’ has spread across the globe. As they say, "it's five o'clock somewhere!" Many pubs and bars have happy hours, and the Housemartins wrote a song about them. The only thing missing is a cocktail called the Happy Hour. There’s got to be one of those out there somewhere. But if there is, are they always two for one?
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"It's Happy Hour again!"