Friday, September 9, 2011

Fun Friday Facts #7: Birthdays and Booze Edition

Just so you know, my birthday was last Tuesday. But I'm celebrating it tonight, because it's my damn birthday and I can do it when I want.

I was going to blog about birthday facts, but then I realized there aren't that many birthday facts. I was about to collapse in a heap of despair, when I realized there's something else commonly associated with birthdays – or at least, commonly associated with mine:


Yeah, baby. ~ P.L. Armstrong

So this is going to be the birthday booze-up edition of Fun Friday Facts. Brace yourselves.

1) Which came first, the birthday party or the booze-up? Well, it looks like the booze-up did. Historians trace the production of the first alcoholic beverages back to 10,000 BC. That's the Stone Age, you guys.
What was that first alcoholic beverage, you ask? Why, none other than beer.

Yummy, yummy beer.

Wine didn't come along until four to five thousand years later, which is why it is inherently not as good.

2) Birthday parties, on the other hand, probably didn't appear until between 800 and 600 BC, in ancient Greece. I say probably, because there appears to have been some scholarly debate on the subject.

Scholars are a lively bunch.

Many historians credit the Greeks with the invention of birthday cakes and candles. They placed their illuminated cakes in the temple of Artemis, with the idea that the smoke and flame of the candles would carry their wishes up to her.

Others believe that the tradition originated in Germany in the Middle Ages, as a way of pleasing children.

There are worse reasons ~ Joonasi

3) The American Temperance Movement, a social movement that sought to eliminate alcohol from society altogether, began in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1789. The movement eventually led to Prohibition, the 1919 Constitutional Amendment that forbid the production, sale, transporit, import or export of alcohol in the United States. This bullsh*t lasted until 1933, when a combination of bootlegging-related gang violence and falling tax revenues convinced the government that banning booze was a baaaaad idea. Also, it was the Great Depression, and we desperately needed a drink.

4) It's widely believed that, among pre-Christian pagan cultures, people were considered especially vulnerable to magical incantations and general supernatural shenanigans on their birthdays. Friends and relatives therefore began the tradition of visiting the birthday boy or girl and loudly wishing them happiness and luck, as a means of deflecting any black magic that may have been chucked their way.

Otherwise, this might happen.
5) Okay, I told you fact number three so I could tell you this one: The National Temperance Society and Publishing House was founded in New York in 1865. Between 1865 and 1925 the organization published more than one billion pages of teetotalers' literature. Its three monthly periodicals reached a combined circulation of about 600,000. The Society also produced more than 2,000 books and leaflets, because they had a lot to say about the evils of drink.

Today, the structure in which the National Temperance Society and Publishing House was located has been converted into a bar.

Take that, Prohibition! ~ xlibber