In case you needed another excuse to drink on a Thursday afternoon, today (November 12th) is National Happy Hour Day! It’s a wonderfully unnecessary holiday, given that millions of people will be grabbing a cocktail after work whether they know it exists or not, but we figure it’s as good a reason to raise a glass as any.

What is Happy Hour?

The phrase “happy hour” dates all the way back to the late 1800s, when it was used in the names of various social clubs, but it wasn’t until the First World War that it really caught on as a reference to an afternoon cocktail hour.

Thanks to a few mentions in Our Navy, The Standard Magazine of the US Navy (really catchy title there, guys), we know that some enterprising sailors aboard the USS Arkansas started hosting their very own “semi-weekly smokers” as early as 1913.

These get-togethers typically included music, movies, dancing, boxing matches, and, of almost certainly, a good deal of rum and whiskey. The sailors eventually took to calling their little shindigs happy hours, and by the end of WWI the practice had spread throughout most of the Navy.

After Prohibition went into effect in the States a few years later, it started to catch on among the civilian population as well. Because most restaurants were disallowed from serving alcohol with meals, determined drinkers would gather at their local speakeasy to knock back a few Sidecars or Whiskey Sours before dinner—a tradition that gradually adopted the happy hour moniker, probably thanks to some of the aforementioned Navy veterans.

Happy National Happy Hour Day!

Sadly, not everyone will be able to celebrate the illustrious National Happy Hour Day this afternoon. Several states ban the practice entirely (Alaska, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont), and many others have fairly obtuse restrictions on exactly what kinds of drinks can be discounted, when, and by how much.

Like so many liquor laws, it’s pretty nearly impossible to keep all of the regulations straight, but as far as we know it’s still legal to get an after-work drink everywhere in the country. So if you’re walking or taking public transit home today, we hope you’ll all take an hour or two to honor this century-old tradition.

This November 12, millions of people will be celebrating National Happy Hour Day. It's not too shabby as far as century-old traditions go.

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