National Punch Day

Photo by Frank Vincentz

Photo by Frank Vincentz

National Punch Day is celebrated on September 20th of each year. National Whatever Day was unable to discover the origin of National Punch Day.

Punch is the term for a wide assortment of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, generally containing fruit or fruit juice. The drink was introduced from India to England in the early seventeenth century; from there its use spread to other countries. Punch is typically served at parties in large, wide bowls, known as punch bowls.

The word punch is a loanword from Hindi panch (meaning five) and the drink was originally made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices. The original drink was named paantsch.
The drink was brought to England from India by sailors and employees of the British East India Company in the early seventeenth century. From there it was introduced into other European countries. When served communally, the drink is expected to be of a lower alcohol content than a typical cocktail.

The term punch was first recorded in British documents in 1632. At the time, most punches were of the Wassail type made with a wine or brandy base. But around 1655, Jamaican rum came into use and the ‘modern’ punch was born. By 1671, documents make references to punch houses.

Today, soft drink manufacturers distribute many types of “fruit punch” beverages. These are usually red colored drinks. Despite the name, most brands contain only a small fraction of actual fruit juice, the major constituents being sugar or corn syrup, citric acid, and artificial flavors.