An interesting discussion on Irish talk radio network Newstalk this afternoon focused on whether Arthur's Day -- the recently instituted annual celebration of the pouring of the first pint of Guinness -- is a scam.
The 'commemoration' began with a celebration of the 250 year anniversary of the black stuff's introduction to the world, but the drinks British makers, the international conglomerate Diageo, have decided, disingenuously, to continue it every year since.
One of the contributors likened the beginning of Arthur's Day to a documented phenomenon in psychology whereby if enough people do something, others inevitably follow.
Whether there's any reason to drink a pint of Guinness 'to Arthur' today or not, if Diago's marketing people can create a strong enough sense that it's simply what people do on that day, then people inevitably will do precisely that, earning Diageo millions in the process.
The same contributor pointed out that we do not yet have an annual Smarties Day, Mountain Dew Day, etc.
While Arthur's Day is just really a great excuse to go enjoy a pint of Guinness - no matter where you are in the world - I found myself empathizing with the contributor who accused Diageo (an English company) of trying to capitalize on Irish faux-patriotism, and our inevitable tendency to jump on every opportunity that presents itself to have a drink.
Although Guinness one of the truly definitely Irish products, there's still no good need for the company's makers to declare a national day to celebrate it -- especially if it's going to cost the same as it does any other day.
That's really my beef with 'Arthur's Day'.
I think that accusing Diageo of trying to exploit naive nationalism is overly-cynical, but I do find it strange that the Guinness costs just as much on this day as it does any other day of the year.
While many bars in practice do offer Guinness on discount, I think one free pint, to be dispensed to each patron at the famous time (17:59) would be an all round better solution.
Rather than rewarding its customers for a year spent buying the product with an annual 'giving one back', Diageo instead try to concoct a fictitious celebration to try boost their profits -- or at least that's how it seems to me.
Asking Diageo to give away a few million pints of Guinness gratis is probably asking a bit much, but at least that way 'Arthur's Day' would be a genuine 'celebration' of Guinness - rather than an elaborate marketing campaign to try line the pockets of the global conglomerate a little further.
That aside - happy Arthur's Day!