On the Friday closest to January 26th, in a tradition that began in the mid-1970s, students at Bates College in the U.S. take part in a drinking ritual: over the course of 24hrs, each participant must consume a total of 24 beers whilst carrying on with their daily routine. Known as Newman’s Day, the ritual was born in response to a possibly mythical quote from the late-actor, Paul Newman, in which he supposedly noted, whilst making a speech on campus:
“24 beers in a case, 24 hours in a day. Coincidence? I think not.”
A particularly rowdy Newman’s Day in 1987 prompted then-dean Celeste Branham to proclaim the tradition ‘over’; not long afterwards, Paul Newman himself heard of the development, and sent the following note to the college’s president.
The tradition continues to this day.
April 20, 1987
Mr. Thomas Reynolds
President, Bates College
204 Lane Hall
Lewiston, ME 04240
Dear Mr. Reynolds:
I was surprised to learn that a day which was held in my honor was actually an excuse for drunkenness, disregard for property, disrespect for people, and deeds of questionable character. That the tradition of these activities has been wisely quashed by those in authority is indeed a relief.
I would like to propose that Paul Newman Day be reinstated under somewhat different guidelines; i.e., a day in pursuit of athletic excellence with paid attendance. The proceeds to be returned to the community in ways of your own choosing. I would be grateful to learn if the students find any merit in this.
(Signed, ‘Paul Newman’)
cc: Laurette A. Cousineau
P.S. My office address is: 500 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022