A lesson about alcohol culture: the alcohol industry works hard to construct traditions in order to create more and more occasions for people to consume alcohol…

A recent graphic was printed online delineating among other things, how the sales of alcohol products on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) could help the American economy because of the taxes generated (“St. Patrick’s Day Drinking Could Be Boon For Tax Revenue“).

For this blog, however, I am going to focus on one of the related charts that is presented as part of the graphic. This is a chart that shows specific “holidays” when the most alcohol use occurs during the year.  Among other things, this list especially calls attention to the “manufactured holidays” which have been developed by the alcohol industry to increase its sales. The comments below each of the holiday dates are mine.


1. New Year’s Eve  (December 31st)

  • a majority of Americans feel the need to celebrate the end of the old year and toast the New Year. No obvious limits on quantities of alcohol consumed other than blood alcohol levels for intoxicated drivers.

 2.  St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th)

  • the Irish and the alcohol industry have managed to take an average saint’s day in Ireland and make it into a festive, often raucous event. Even though this is not an official US holiday, it has now become one of the most popular alcohol using days in the USA.

(Reporting on an earlier blog of mine (Preventing Drunk Driving), the previously banned parade in Chicago was permitted to be renewed this year if no alcohol was involved. It was successfully held without incident – there was only one arrest: for public urination).

3. Thanksgiving Eve (end of November)

  • this one doesn’t really register. Unlike New Year’s Eve, which is generally considered a party time for most Americans, Thanksgiving Eve is usually a workday and/or a travel day to get to the family feast the next day. This day would at best be at the very end of this list in terms of partying.

4. Cinco de Mayo (May 5th)

  • another non-holiday; here the alcohol industry has worked very hard to turn a minor day commemorating a Mexican war victory into a Latin bacchanal. There are a lot of Mexican groups who are upset about this usurping of their day, but the industry works hard to keep this  “American tradition” alive.

5. Purim (varies: end of Feb-mid-March)

  • this is a holiday celebrated mainly by orthodox Jews. However, Purim does note a Jewish victory over an oppressor followed by a celebration which featured heavy alcohol use – special features that the alcohol marketers like to work with. Right now Purim is virtually unknown in the USA, but who knows what the future might bring.

6. Derby Day (the first week-end in May)

  • this apparently refers to the running of the horse race: the Kentucky Derby – and again, is not an  official US holiday. It is a televised occurrence featuring a lot of people drinking mint juleps while waiting for the big race of the day. But this is such a special time regulated race that as a major alcohol consuming event, it too falls to the bottom of the list.

7. 4th of July (July 4th)

  • this is America’s Independence Day, a true holiday when families get together for a picnic or a barbeque. Alcoholic beverages very often accompany such gatherings, but the goal of such events is not necessarily to get everyone “tipsy.”

8. Halloween (October 31st)

  • another non-holiday which the alcohol industry has tried to take over and dominate, but here the parents of young children have seemed to prevail at the moment. The amount of party advertising by the industry has been curtailed, however, there still has been a boom in young adults dressing up in costumes and partying in their version of Halloween.

9. Mardi Gras (varies: late March – early April)

  • another ‘religious based’ non-holiday, which is centered in a few southern cities, especially New Orleans. The alcohol industry is trying to spread the celebration to a much wider market.

10. Super Bowl Sunday (first Sunday in February)

  • another manufactured “holiday.” This final football game of the season has been billed as a real party time. And for a lot of fans, it is, but this is by no means nationwide.  Many parties are held to see an event that has morphed from a focus on a football game to seeing which of the TV commercials is the best, the silliest, the funniest, etc.  The viewers probably will not remember the names of the teams that played in the game, but they will know who had the best TV ad!

In any event, there are always those who use alcohol heavily no matter what the event, but this, again, is not a time where it is expected that all would leave in an intoxicated state.

What comes through from an analysis of this list is just how hard the alcohol industry has worked to create a series of events from foreign lands, religious observations, and sporting events to increase alcohol use.

Actually, only one of the days listed is an actual US National Holiday: the 4th of July, our Independence Day.

There does seem to be an attempt to develop at least one of these events a month – and so far January, June, August and September haven’t generated an event to date. It will be interesting to see what the alcohol industry comes up with.