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Eat Outside Day, falling on August 31, encourages everyone to get some fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors whilst enjoying a meal, too. Our earliest ancestors ate outside, so it’s no wonder we love to eat in the open air as they did. Whether you want a luxurious al fresco dining experience or a simple, rustic bite surrounded by nature, we’ve got some suggestions to make you salivate over Eat Outside Day.
History of Eat Outside Day
The human race has always eaten outside — in the early days, simply because there was no other option! But the choice to dine outside dates back to the Medieval period when men would fuel up with a hearty meal of bread, meat, and cheese just before setting off for a hunt.
In the centuries that followed, eating outside continued to be associated with hunting, when in the summer months the gentry would feast under large tents on the spoils of the day’s hunt. These would typically be lavish occasions, recreating the banquet they might have had inside, but in the open air.
It was the French people who made al-fresco dining an option for the masses when, following the French Revolution in 1789, the former Royal Parks were opened to the public, and people used them for socializing, bringing food to share, and enjoying it together. At a similar time, pleasure gardens were created in the U.S. These were private spaces where a family could walk, play outdoor games, and enjoy a meal. These were replicated by the Germans as their beer gardens and, in the Prohibition era, they were made into tea gardens in the U.S.
The invention and later increasing affordability of the motorcar enabled people to travel further afield to enjoy a day out in the countryside, making picnics a highly popular way to socialize and stay energized. Our enjoyment of good weather combined with good food has also proven lucrative for restaurants, with al-fresco dining, and homes, with outdoor spaces for BBQs.
As we can’t always rely on the weather, we celebrate Eat Outside Day on August 31 when the weather should be at its best and we can celebrate the history of food, socializing, and the great outdoors!
Eat Outside Day timeline
Following the French Revolution, the French people open their royal parks to everyone, and people begin eating together in them.
The first use of the word ‘picnic’ is documented, stemming from the French term, ‘pique-nique,’ which uses the verb ‘to pick’ with a rhyming ending to denote a thing of small importance or trifle.
American artist Thomas Cole paints “The Pic-Nic,” which shows a group of well-dressed diners eating al fresco in the Hudson River Valley.
To celebrate the first Bastille Day of the new millennium, the French organize a 600-mile-long picnic.
Eat Outside Day FAQs
What do I do if it’s raining?
You can still eat outside but do so undercover with a gazebo or tent that will let you enjoy the great outdoors whilst shielding you from the rain.
What is best to eat outside?
Whatever you like! If you’re picnicking, then we suggest finger food to save using disposable plates and cutlery.
Can I take my picnic anywhere?
You can picnic on public land, like parks and the countryside. You need permission for private land, such as farmers’ fields and private estates and gardens.
How to Celebrate Eat Outside Day
Dine at an outdoor restaurant
Treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant with outdoor seating. You can enjoy delicious food without any of the faffs, and enjoy the great outdoors whilst you dine.
Picnic in the park
Great for kids or larger groups, a picnic is the quintessential outdoor eating experience. You can take savory snacks with you and fulfill your sweet tooth at the ice cream truck.
Graze in your garden
Take the table outside and eat in your garden or on your porch for an easy and cost-effective way to celebrate. With a BBQ, you can even do the cooking outside too!
5 Facts About Picnics To Tickle Your Tastebuds
You can picnic and protest
In 1989, the Pan-European Picnic was organized on both sides of the Hungarian/Austrian border as part of the fight for German reunification.
The teddy bears didn’t picnic at first
The children’s song, ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ was originally called ‘The Teddy Bear’s Two-Step’ when it was composed in 1907, but changed when the lyrics were added in later, in 1930.
Robin Hood loved to picnic
One of the earliest accounts of picnicking comes from the stories of Robin Hood, in which Robin and his band of Merry Men would eat bread, cheese, and beer in the forest.
They’re important in Australian literature
Considered by critics to be one of Australia’s best novels, “Picnic at Hanging Rock” centers around the unresolved mystery of a missing girl — author Joan Lindsay’s original draft resolved the mystery with the suggestion of a time warp, but that chapter was removed before publication.
They weren’t always outside
Originally, picnics took place inside, with the distinction from a dinner party being that all guests brought a dish for everyone to share.
Why We Love Eat Outside Day
Nature is amazing
Wherever you are, there’s always something incredible in nature to enjoy — from the local wildlife to the changing seasons.
It’s good for our health
Getting fresh air is proven to boost our energy and be beneficial for both our mental- and physical health, so take a deep breath and feel that goodness in your lungs! Food is fun! Food isn’t just about surviving — it’s about thriving! Food can be creative, inventive, and exciting and making your meal memorable will mean you enjoy it even more.
Eat Outside Day dates