Does Shakespeare invented Happy Hour?

In bars and restaurants, we often hear the term “Happy Hour” which is a period of time that we get to enjoy small bites and drinks at a discounted price. Obviously “Happy Hour” is happy as we get to spend time with our friends while spending less money. But do you know the origin of this probably one of the greatest inventions of the century? Though the definite origin is uncertain, there are a few possible roots. 

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The first possible origin is from the US Navy, which, in 1913, soldiers organised semi-weekly gatherings on board. Soldiers entertained themselves by engaging in boxing, dancing, music and movies, and this tradition was quickly spread to the entire Navy during  WWI.


Another possible origin can also be traced back to the US during the Prohibition Era. Alcohol consumption was banned and people would host “cocktail hours” at speakeasies (secret bars) before going to restaurants. To further disguise the intention of “cocktail hours”, it was then renamed to a more vague term - “happy hour”.


Prohibition in U.S

However, the term “Happy Hour” itself can be found much earlier in Shakespear’s play - King Henry V. In Act 1 Scene 2 of the play, he says, “Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour / That may give furtherance to our expedition”. Here, “happy hour” refers to a period of joy and entertainment and not so much to alcohol and drinking. Still, it does make a long sense when he says we should not omit a happy hour as it brings us farther in our journeys. 

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The origin of Happy Hour may be uncertain but its nature stays the same. We need Happy Hour not only because bars and restaurants are giving us special offers, but, more importantly, we need Happy Hour to gather with friends or to enjoy the carefree time with loved ones. It doesn’t necessarily have to be cocktails,  a glass of white, a glass of rose or a glass of champagne can be your best company in this merriful time. Tell yourself - after a long day of work, give yourself a break and enjoy the “Happy Hour” in a way you prefer.