Illustration: Venla Valve

Cliona Elliott,

Editor (Food)


Alcohol is at the forefront of society – the social tool found at almost every event, but also the liquid fuel at the root of many troubling issues such as violence, unprotected sex and health problems. Binge drinking, which is the term given for drinking alcohol with the sole intention of getting drunk, and the attitude it assimilates of youths especially is very worrying. It is however interesting to observe how drinking cultures differ around the world, and whether attitudes to alcohol are inherited by specific cultural values.

In the UK one in four adults are binge drinkers which begins to explain its’ title of Europe’s heaviest alcohol consumers. The cheap prices, 24 hour licensing law and the boozy club culture on the high streets has taken its toll on attitudes to drinking; many people in the UK drink to the extent that they wake up with a complete memory blank of last night’s antics along with half a kebab or chip shop purchase mashed into their top. The binge drinking culture is costing Britain at least £20 billion a year, but how does this differ with the rest of the world?

In parts of Europe such as France and Spain, café culture is a huge part of daily life. Though there is a legal drinking age, people tend to ignore it and young teens can buy alcohol in supermarkets or bars; wine in particular is very much encouraged to be drank from an early age, in order to value and appreciate the taste as opposed to the effects. However, though many people may say ‘c’est culture!’ (‘it’s in our culture!’) there is definitely binge drinking happening in France and Spain, but it’s arguably not as serious as in the UK.

Going out of Europe, you will find that many Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia are cultural hotspots where travellers drink on the beach at all night parties. Similar to France and Spain, in China drinking is tolerated from an early age and youths tend not to abuse the effects. There is a sort of ‘rite of passage’ for young Chinese males whereby the party sit around a table and the guest of honour has a shot of beer or rice wine with every guest, allowing him to prove is manhood.

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