How is being drunk perceived in your culture?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-24 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Modern Greek

I don’t know that you’ll find many cultures that think getting blotto is a wonderful thing, but Greek traditional culture is one of many that tut-tuts public drunkenness. The maxim my father used to warn me with was, να το πίνεις [το κρασί], να μη σε πίνει: “You should drink it [wine], you shouldn’t let it drink you.”

(“In Soviet Russia” joke opportunities ignored.)

Greek drinking culture is accompanied by nibbles (mezze), expressly so as to avert quick inebriation—especially if brandy (ouzo, raki) rather than wine is involved. Wine, for that matter, features at the dinner table rather than in the mezze joint. There is a word for drinking without nibbles: xerosfyri, “dry hammer”; the etymology may in fact be “dry + whistling” or a corruption of “dry + sieved”. There is a word for it, precisely because it is looked down upon. Indeed, British drinking culture, with its drinking xerosfyri, was an easy target of criticism for my aunts and uncles in Greece. (Their children of course were already going to bars and knocking back whisky anyway.)

Accompanying this, Greek slang has about as many words for being drunk as Eskimo is alleged to have for snow: Nick Nicholas’ answer to What are some slang phrases to describe getting drunk in your language or country?

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