Here’s To Beer is promoting September 16 as “Mayflower Day,” the day that the Pilgrims set sail for the New World. A few months later, tired, hungry and really, really thirsty (having run out of beer) they forgot all about their original intended destination of Virginia and instead settled in Massachusetts, landing famously at Plymouth Rock.
From the press release:
Although a little-known holiday, Mayflower Day had a big impact on making beer America’s favorite beverage of moderation.
Sunday, Sept. 16, marks the anniversary of the day the Mayflower departed from England in 1620 in search of the New World. For more than two months, the passengers and crew weathered storms, sickness and starvation without taking to land — until they ran out of beer. Beer was their primary beverage because, at that time, water could have been dangerous.
“Beer’s journey from a beverage of sustenance in colonial times to America’s alcohol beverage of choice is an integral part of our history,” said Bob Lachky, executive vice president, global industry development, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “Whether an early settler or a modern adult, Americans share the same appreciation for beer. While today’s adults can enjoy complex varieties, styles and flavors, beer’s refreshment and drinkability remains tried and true.”
In early times, beer was made out of whatever ingredients adults could find, like pumpkins and molasses. Thirteen years before the pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, a group of settlers established a colony in Jamestown, Virginia. In 1609, the governor wrote a note back to England saying he needed two brewers to come over and establish a brewery in Jamestown. Beer was just that important.
Beer continues to reign supreme today. The latest Gallup Poll shows that of the 64 percent of Americans who consume alcohol, beer continues to be their beverage of choice, with 40 percent choosing it over wine and hard liquor.
A quick glance in the upper left-hand corner of the Bulletin should amply demonstrate that I am, among other things, a calendar geek. I have at least as many, and possibly more, books about calendars, time and dates than I do about beer. Back in the late Seventies, at the very same time I was discovering better beer, a book of mixed drinks I bought included an appendix with four reasons to drink a toast for every day of the year. The list included a mix of the usual holidays, some lesser known ones, famous people’s birthdays, and historical events. The notion of finding more of these for each day of the year captivated me and I began making lists of them for every day. In fact, my very first website — back at the dawn of time in 1995 — was “The Daily Globe,” a list of dates. Oddly enough, even though I took it off the internet in 1997, another website, JimJr Jokes, still has a copy of it hosted on their website. I don’t even mind that they didn’t ask me before stealing it whole, at least they gave me credit for all the work I put into creating it. There are a few others that stole it and gave me no credit whatsoever, such as Two Geeks on AOL. Curiously enough I first met Stephen Beaumont with reference to my dates page (he used them to come up with his daily phone messages) before we realized we both were in the beer business.
That brings us to “Mayflower Day,” a holiday that no one really has ever celebrated. It is listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events, which is the authority on current holidays and dates, but without a sponsor, website or town festival. But actually I’m okay with that. I think we need more holidays. And while it might have made a tad more sense for it to be celebrated on the day the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock — especially since it was running out of beer that contributed to the decision — that took place on December 26, the day after Christmas. That’s a terrible date to try to start a new holiday, not to mention that’s also Boxing Day, an English tradition. So September 16 it is, or rather that’s the date it is now. When the Pilgrims looked at their calendar as they set sail, the date was eleven days earlier. That’s because in 1620 England used the Julian calendar, which was off a bit. The Gregorian calendar is the one we use today and September 16 is the adjusted date. See? … calendar geek.
So I’m all in favor of raising a toast to those cranky, conservative Pilgrims. At least they loved their beer. Happy Mayflower Day everybody.