Here's To You, Ivan

The New Year celebrations may be just a distant memory for us Brits now as we struggle with our winter wonderland, but spare a thought for our Russian cousins. Many of them are still adjusting to 2013 after an extended holiday and booze-binge.

Russia officially only went back to work on Jan 9th after a weeklong slumber when the stock market is shut and newspapers aren’t published. However, some people carried on partying until they had seen in the New Year under the Julian (still the legitimate one, according to my father) calendar on Jan 13th.

Analysts estimate that this hiatus costs the Russian economy £20bn in lost revenue. But the people love it. Some escape the cities and head into the country. Or go to visit relatives. And a great many just “dive into a zapoi”. That’s binge-drink, in modern parlance. And my, don’t those Ruskies love their booze.

Vadim Dobroz, head of Russia’s Research Centre on the Federal and Regional Alcohol Market, claims that the average Russian spends £247 on booze over this period. Which, considering the price of Russian booze, is a lot. Or, as another expert put it, if all the bottles of alcohol that were drunk over the holiday were put along the equator, they would wrap around the world 17 times.

So what is all this booze that the Russians are putting away? Well, with a population of 142 million, it’s said that they consume a total of 1.5bn litres of the stuff. That includes 100m bottles of beer and the same amount of champagne. Then you’ve got 250m bottles of vodka, 80m bottles of wine, 10m of cognac and around 1.5m bottles of various other spirits.

By any reckoning, that’s a lot of booze and some people need a little nudge to remind them that the holiday is over. Hence this message from a Russian health website: “The real fun begins three to four days after the holiday ends. Citizens, who have abused alcohol for at least 10 days (and some started in mid-December even), suddenly remember that they need to go to work.”

Na zdorovie. 


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