Where is this myth coming from? that Finns drink more than others, when official charts clearly show that alcohol consumption is higher in over a dozen of other countries?! Check the official facts and you will be amazed:
At alcohol consumption per capita, Finland comes only after 20 other countries.
# 18 in beer consumption. Doesn’t even appear in the wine and spirits charts.
More downloadable charts here.
The abstainer’s chart. Finns drink in general/in greater numbers, maybe that’s where the fake image comes from. And they seem to drink more, when they decide to do so (see the charts).
Only on one occasion Finland tops the charts, that being at the question “Do you think higher prices for alcohol would discourage young and heavy drinkers?” 60% of Finns replied Yes. They’ve already been through a time when drinks were expensive enough and now the prices stand at a lower level than before, obviously making alcohol more handy. If prices would decrease even more, only 9% of Finns would buy more alcohol. Again, see the questionnaire answers.
Alright, but here’s the questions that persists:
Why are Finns seen as such heavy drinkers?
It could be due to what I mentioned before – the higher percentage of population that engages in alcohol consumption. Might be the weather also…
Here’s my view on it:
I’d say it’s rather about the attitude. Of course, I can compare this to the habits of my native country. Here, people drink ‘quietly’ and usually in bars. But Finland has a very different culture. It’s fun to make drinking an event! “Let’s drink!” – the simple phrase that brightens the eyes, brings a smile and renews one’s energy. It’s a social event. It is very common that during summer festivals, attendants barely get to see any of the present bands, because they’re too busy getting drunk or, later on, being wasted. They are allowed to be so! And it’s also fun when you’re not allowed to drink, so everyone takes some beer to the forest, to the parks, even to the public squares. Alright, but why is drinking itself so much fun? Because it brings quite a change… Here we have 2 different attitudes: in some cultures, alcohol makes people be what they’re not, while Finns drink to become themselves. Sure, some of them have beaten their wives, killed their neighbour with an axe or whatever, but most of them drink in order to be free from the frustrations and fears they usually have. It’s not easy being a Finn. It’s in their nature to be shy, somewhat fearful, melancholic, very reserved, giving so much space to others that they won’t manage to reconnect. To fill the gap between them and the rest of the world, such social inhibitions must disappear. It’s the alcohol that does it. It acts like a lubricant in these social encounters. If they do something stupid, they can just blame the drunkenness.
Thus the Finns (who are highly capable of being charming and having entertaining conversations) dare to approach somebody, to see the bright side of a situation and to start speaking. I’ve seen this many times: they love being around people as much as they love being all alone. It’s like they have 2 types of batteries – the ones that recharge by togetherness and the others, recharging in solitude. Finns love to communicate and they need it. When talking to somebody, it’s like getting reassured that you’re able, that you matter as an individual. You get the feedback you were looking for and sure that makes you feel better. Unfortunately, some of us can be open to communication only when the chemicals in the brain are modified. So, this is how you get a genuine friendly Finn: let him/her drink!
However, don’t expect the wonder to last. When alcohol is too much, you won’t get anything of what they say; or, the next day they will return to the before-drinking mood.
But hopefully, they will remember that they trusted you and that they had a good time.
I’ve seen enough Finns while indulging in drinking, yet never had a truly bad time because of it. They have to do that, to fool their demons for a while…
If, after this little exploration of Finnish drinking culture, you feel sympathy for it, maybe you want to check the Drunk Moose design at MFF SHOP >>