Social Drinking

It’s the time of the year when people are probably the most socially stressed. You may wonder why and I would say: Because it’s Christmas time! Which, in general, is quite a nice time – the cities are decorated beautifully with lovely Christmas markets. Gosh, we’ve got some very nice once in Germany, don’t we? The smell of fresh waffles, sweet mulled wine and roasted almonds is in the air. The sound of church bells and choirs everywhere….fallallalala

Despite all this harmony and bloom, I witness people seeming to be awfully pressured: They suddenly realize it’s December meaning it’s Christmas soon. They suddenly realize, there’s is sooooo much to do and sooooo little time left before the year is over.

Once Christmas season hits Germany – I don’t mean when grocery stores start to sell Christmas sweets by the end of August – I mean at the end of November, there’s no holding back it seems. All of the sudden people want to reunite once more before we call it a year. As if there hadn’t been enough time before and as if there wouldn’t be enough time in the future. It’s now or never!

Of course it’s flattering when people want to spend time with you once more – because…you never now, when it’s the last. And Christmas probably makes us so sentimental and emotional that we don’t want to miss out on this. It’s of course also flattering when people ask you out during the rest of the year – for any kind of occasion.  And, no matter what the occasion is, drinking alcohol is widely accepted. Sometimes, however, I believe it’s even required. If you drink you prove something. Maybe you prove your respect to the event.

When we celebrate our new flat for example, we pour champagne, when we turn 30, we pour champagne, when we celebrate New Year’s eve, we pour champagne. When it’s Saturday night, we gulp masses of beer, shots, gin tonics, moscow mules and more beer to celebrate ourselves, the weekend and whatever there is to celebrate. Sometimes we have wine with our dinner and we’ll have an after-work drink and sometimes chink glasses for a huge work-success. So basically, we drink from Monday to Monday, week by week…and we’re creative in defining the occasion. Let’s celebrate the moment! GinTonic

What if we didn’t drink? How would we Germans manage to loosen up? We’re supposedly a quite unfunny people but also known for beers and exquisite wines. Would we be able to talk to strangers, dance fiercly and could we stop worrying and just enjoy the moment without fluid intoxication? Would we still ask each other out if we didn’t drink?

Because:
Drinking is social. When we drink together, we have something in common
– even if it’s just the moment we drink together.

Not drinking is not social.
If we don’t drink, we don’t participate.

At first this seems like a very cruel equation, but having been through almost three consecutive months without alcohol this year deliberatly, has proven exactly  this to me. My reason: I thought it would be good for my overall running training and preparation for my first half-marathon if I restrained from drinking. And of course I kept saying I would probably celebrate my finishing with a cold beer. How ironic. In the end, it wasn’t difficult at all – restraining from alcohol, the half-marathon was painful. I didn’t miss the drinks much and enjoyed my weekends totally sober. What was difficult however, was the fact that I had to explain myself to people who kept asking why I wouldn’t drink and tried to convince me to give it a try. Whenever I refused – and I refused every single time, I was looked at as if I were pure boredom in person. Yeah right, Catie Hoffmann doesn’t make jokes, doesn’t laugh and never has silly Fridays or „vice-Fridays“ with her co-workersI  Never….

Well, I learned: Not drinking is not only not social, it’s also not an option.

I find it very difficult to say we should not drink at all. Alcohol is part of our (western) culture and has become a symbol for festivities. And as listed above we create festivities constantly. Of course it’s up to everyone individually to drink, drink, drink or to enjoy, cherish or call it a day, when one drink was enough.

In German we have an idiom „sich jemanden schön trinken“ which an online dictionary translates to: „to put on one’s bee goggles“. It means that you find other people more appealing when you drink. So drinking is not only social, it’s also beauty-magic. In the end, we could summarize that alcohol helps us escape an ugly reality. BUT; I would hate this to be my conclusion.

WinterMaybe, alcohol makes us go through this stressful time of the year more easily and it helps us loosen up from all the social stress. Maybe it helps us to reflect the past months less pessimistic and gives us a feeling of equality, when we drink in a group. When drinking – we’re all the same, one could think. Especially during Christmas season, when it’s cold and dark outside, people are longing for something warming. They are longing for company.

So in the end, it seems: alcohol brings people together, it’s a socializer. 

*I am quite aware that alcohol can cause the exact opposite and pull people apart.  So I might have a look at this some other time.

by the way: this article was produced under the influence of fennel tea, alchol-free.

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