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What did ancient Slavs drink?

Drunkenness is Russian tradition? A blatant lie! TRUTH IN HISTORICAL FACTS

"Ancient Slavs weren't familiar not only vodka, but also wine. They drank honey, the production scale of which cannot be compared with the production of wine from grapes. No wonder they said “between the cup and the lip a morsel may slip.” Fermented honey because of the high cost was not really available and therefore was present on the tables of exclusively knyazhes and boyars. Its potency is comparable to beer (beer, incidentally, had been present, and also very expensive: it used to be a great luxury to waste barley grown in conditions of risky agriculture for alcohol). Therefore, even the rich people had honey and beer only on holidays.

We do not have holidays associated with wine and beverage, there are no wine and winemaking gods, which there are so numerous in Europe. There are no specific scenes of drunkenness in fairy tales and folk tales.


Therefore, when the whole of Europe drank wine in the notorious Middle Ages, Kievan Russia was sober. The situation started to change only in the 15th century, when an Arabic invention – vodka (alhogol is an Arab word) began to penetrate into Western Russia – Grand Duchy of Lithuania via the merchants. Here is what historian Michael Litvin wrote about that time: "Muscovites refrain from drinking, therefore their cities are famous for their artisans ... Now in Lithuanian towns there are plenty of factories – breweries and wineries. ... Lithuanians' day begins by drinking vodka, still lying on the bed and shouting: "Wine, wine!", and then they drink this poison - men, women and young men in the streets, in the squares, even on the road; marred by the drink, they are not capable of doing anything and can only sleep."

It was at this time that Luther said that Germany is plagued by drunkenness, and in London Pastor William Kent used to make a helpless gesture over his parishioners: deadly drunk! Russia at that time was going through a religious upsurge: a person used to be excommunicated from the sacrament just for a single use of wine for more than half a year – it was a grave punishment for the believers of that time. In addition, already from the time of Vasily the Dark and Ivan III, the state monopoly on spirits was introduced. They were sold only to foreigners. Russians "were simply forbidden to drink except for a few days a year," S. Herberstein, a contemporary, said. Producing alcohol was also prohibited.

In the 15th century the first “tsar's tavern” was opened by Ivan the Terrible.

It was the only one in the city. How many alcohol selling places are now per city?

Also, multi-layered system opposing drunkenness functioned at that time in Russia:

1. Severe weather which did not contribute to the production of alcohol and made it expensive.

2. Strict state control.

3. Active condemnation of drunkenness on the part of the Church. 200 days a year were fasting ones, during which it was strictly forbidden to consume alcohol.

4. The condemnation by the peasant community. Taxes (dues) were levied on the entire farmstead (there was a mutual responsibility) rather than on the individual. Therefore, if someone started to drink and accordingly worked poorly - the entire farming community used to affect him. If the person continued to drink – he was simply expelled. Only runaways, tax farmers, cossacks, landowners, citizens could drink – and they made not more than 7% of the population. Pubs were only in the cities, the distribution of which was suppressed when Alexis of Russia.

Peter the Great is the biggest fan of the booze, he inculcated drunkenness. But Oleary, who visited Moscow at the time, wrote: "Foreigners were more than muscovites involved in drinking." In ‘civilized’ England at this time, according to Burton, "a teetotal was not considered a gentleman." You can long reminisce of the Peter the Great's disgusting drinking binges, but even he realized the harm of alcohol, issued a decree according to which chains were hung on the drunks' necks.

Catherine the Great filled up the treasury at the expense of taverns, but it took almost 100 years in order to only until the mid-19th century alcohol consumption reached 5.4 litres per person per year (compare this with the current 12 official and 18 unofficial). At the same time drunkenness flourished at the expense of the city. Engelhard wrote, "I was surprised with sobriety, which I saw in our villages." Among the village population in the late 19th century, according to a survey of the time, 90% of women and half of men had never tried alcohol!

And you call it “always drunken Russia?”

Even 4-5 litres were seen as an unprecedented problem. In 1858, anti-alcohol riots (expressed in destroying of taverns) were held in 32 provinces, which forced the government of Alexander III to close taverns. The result was not slow in coming: the use of alcohol had fallen by 2 times.

And yet again, a powerful anti-alcohol campaign began in Russia. People turned to Nicholas II and demanded to introduce ‘dry law’ in connection with the outbreak of the First World War. And Nicholas responded to the appeal of the people. Lloyd George had said about the Russian ‘dry law’: "It is the most magnificent act of national heroism that I know of."

Someone may ask where this statistic is from? Who was counting? In the villages, they had been moonshining without noticing.

Here you need to think with your head: in Stalin's Soviet Union rigid monopoly was present, all the figures of production and sales – alcohol, sugar, grain – passed through the State Planning Commission. And for all ‘off the books’ there were repression, few dared to ‘moonshine’ and ‘sell.’ Therefore, the numbers are correct, and they confirm that the Stalinist USSR was one of the most sober countries around the world! The Soviet man drank 3 times less than the Englishman, 7 times less than an American and 10 times less than the Frenchman. Therefore, GDP growth was so rapid that is has not yet been surpassed by any country of the world.

Only in 1965 we sank into 4-5 litres. And over the next 20 years the number of drunken alcohol has increased by 2 times. At the same time GDP growth and labour productivity declined.

Well, then, in the darkest period of the reforms of the 1990s, consumption and uncontrolled swill production only grew.

Let's fix the facts:

Russia throughout its history has been the most non-drinking countries in Europe and one of the most non-drinking countries in the world until the last 10-15 years. A critical milestone of 8 litres that separated drinking countries from barely drinking ones was overcome only 25-30 years ago.

Sobriety is Russian national tradition!


  • November 14, 2016 3:53 PM MSK