Is it Happy Hour or cranky hour?

3 mins read


Around the world, there are people who get off work and immediately head for the local bars or pubs. It is usually between 5 and 7 p.m. when people attend Happy Hour. Some bars have moved that time up an hour in order to accommodate those who take off work early.

It made me start wondering how the term Happy Hour came about. I mean when you think about it, a lot of people are stressed at the end of a workday. The strain of commuting, the long hours, and the job itself takes a toll on folks and by the end of the day, well, there are a lot of cranky people out there. Shouldn’t it be called Cranky Hour?

It seems that the end-of-the-day crankiness is inherent in all of us. Ask any new parent, caring for an infant and they will tell you that the rough part of the day for a baby (and parent) is between 5 and 7. Maybe we are all just programmed to be exhausted at this time of day. Whining, crying, and being generally out of sorts seems the norm.

I did discover that the first referenced mention of Happy Hour appears in Shakespeare’s King Henry V where he says“, Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour/that may give furtherance to our expedition.” 

But I’m not sure he meant it as the time of the day we think of nowadays. However, there might have been a sign outside of the local British Ale house at the time saying “1 pence for a pot of ale and free biscuits.”

History also suggests that the term may have originated from women’s social clubs as early as the 1880s. They were called Happy Hour Social Clubs. This makes a lot of sense to me since those women were the ones stuck with the crying babies from 5 to 7 p.m., although the reference does not necessarily address the whole alcohol connection.

I am not sure when restaurants and bars realized they could advertise lower costs drinks and free appetizers to accommodate those workers who were hitting their cranky hour. But why not capitalize on what appears to be a universal need. They may have decided that calling it “cranky hour” had a negative connotation and the term Happy Hour is much more palatable.

So even if you do not drink, or maybe you are a light drinker like me, you can still have that time at the end of the day, where you are able to turn the cranky hour into a Happy Hour. 

My husband and I do, because even at our age, we can still get a little cranky.

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