The thing is – it is not! I mean, here in Poland we do drink relatively a lot of strong alcohol. It’s part of the tradition! Tradition (let me underline it really strongly!) of a cold, Slavic country, where winters are long and dark and during these long months you don’t have a lot to do. So still nowadays, it is quite popular to drink vodka, especially in smaller towns or villages, where people live in a more traditional way.
Also, older generations of Poles tend to celebrate with vodka. I think it’s some kind of a communist times legacy. Back then, vodka was the most popular alcohol, because it was accessible. We didn’t have fancy colourful cocktails or western brands of beer.
Generally speaking, through our troublesome history, our enemies often used alcohol as a way of fightinig. For example, during the II World War, when there wasn’t enough food for people, the nazis would always keep the stores well suplied with vodka bottles. Why? Because when people are starving, they’d reach out for alcohol. It has calories, will help them survive. They don’t eat enough, they loose weight, they’re cold all the time. Alcohol helps them feel warm. If they’re seen terrible things, alcohol would help them fall asleep (and sleep a dreamless one). And the most important one – when the whole society is drunk or hungover, they’re not going to organise an uprising nor fight back. And so it continued, through the years…
If you’re interested in the history of alcohol and different Polish alcohol-related traditions – check out the podcast episode I recorded for you some time ago – you’ll find it here.
These days, the generation of our parents or grandparents would still prefer to make a toast with vodka, whether it’s their name day (the most communist holiday you can get!), the birth of their grandchild or Christmas Eve. And some younger generations still continue these traditions. And some – mostly the ones living in big cities only drink vodka when they really have to – meaning – when their families require that. Like, for example, on their wedding. But on daily basis, on the weekend parties or meetings with friends they’d prefer a black currant IPA from a small local brewery or an aperol spritz to cool down on a hot summer night!
I think it’s safe to say that Polish people these days love to drink beer! It’s kind of a new tradition, to go out with friends for a beer, sit long hours and sip something innocently all night long while chatting and not worring about getting drunk (or at least not getting drunk too fast! :P)! And these tiny micro breweries you can nowadays find all around Poland! It’s a really fashionable thing to drink these crazy flavoured beers, you can find all kinds, even stuff like banana or hemp beers! A little bit more about the beer culture you may find here. And a totally new trend that’s getting super popular now is to drink alcohol free drinks! All of those little breweries try to outdo each other with new flavours and types of 0% beers – wheat, fruity, IPAs, APAs, all kinds – now all good for you no matter if you’re driving, taking some serious meds or simply – not in the mood for drinking! And wine makers are following the brewers!
I’m curious – maybe in the future Poland will become a totally alcohol free country? Who knows! 😉