How the World’s Most Famous Drinking Cultures Had Fun


According to official statistics offered by the UK government’s Office for National Statistics, 56.9% of those in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said that they had drunk alcohol the week before the survey. When expanded to the UK’s adult population, that would mean that 29 million people in the UK regularly drink alcohol. Though it’s not just the UK, as most countries around the world have a strong relationship with drinking. From the United States to Russia and from South Korea to Uganda, most populations have some relation to the strong stuff.

In many countries, drinking isn’t strictly limited to special occasions. Although many are known to drink around the holidays, with Christmas boozing being especially popular, many just use it as an excuse to have fun, gathering with their friends to catch up, and share a drink (or two, or three). And, as is often the case, they’ll even take part in a drinking game with some regions even going as far as to have created their very own drinking games and traditions.

United States – Beer Pong

The United States has a very jovial culture, surrounding beer specifically. It’s common to open up a “cold one” (a cold can or bottle of beer) at the end of a long workday, or, head to one of the many pubs, clubs and traditional bars that the country has to offer. The USA’s beer culture is so significant that its drinkers even boast about the health benefits of beer, highlighting just how seriously they take it.

It comes as little surprise, then, that drinkers in the USA have even come up with their very own game that gives them an excuse to chug down even more beer! Called beer pong, KegWorks explains the rules of the game are that players must throw table tennis (ping pong) balls into red solo cups of beer. If the thrower of the ball manages to land their shot, then their opponent will have to down the cup of beer. The game is especially popular with the younger generation. It even has a truth-or-dare-like spin-off called fear pong in which not only do players have to drink when their opponents have to land a shot but they will also have to complete the task/answer the question taped to the bottom of the cup.

Greece – Symposium

Greece is famous for the anise-flavoured liquor ouzo in particular and it is considered to be the national drink. The country once made headlines around the globe when Greece’s entrants to the annual Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 entered the competition with a catchy song called “Alcohol is Free” which speaks of Greece’s major drinking culture.

Games like beer pong may be a more recent development, but the existence of drinking games goes back quite a few years and Greece proves this. According to historical accounts, ancient Greece was fond of something called a “symposium” which translates as an occasion in which people eat and drink together. While these events would often involve plotting and celebration, there were also several games that would be played including kottabos which would involve throwing wine at opponents. Another is skolia which would see men begin to sing drinking songs before encouraging the other men to “improvise” the end of the song like an enthusiastic karaoke game.

Roman – Passatella

Not to be outdone by the Greeks, the ancient Romans also had a big culture around gaming. According to Betway’s discussion on the history of blackjack, the Romans’ love of gaming even led to the card games that we play today. The ancient culture used to play a gambling game in which wooden blocks would represent different numerical values and they would even gamble on the outcomes of these games. This wooden block game – and the game of blackjack – likely found their origins in passatella, another game that the Romans invented. In passatella, a group of men would buy a round of drinks before playing a game of cards (or another table game) to determine roles, these roles would then determine who could offer, grant, or deny other players a drink and it would be accompanied by speeches explaining who should or shouldn’t get to drink.

Passatella allowed the Romans to engage in their other favourite pastime: drinking. The Romans loved wine especially even had a god (Dionysus) dedicated to wine and winemaking. They would hold feasts in which guests are served wine all day, and everyone, no matter their social class, would have wine made available to them due to how important Romans considered it. The upper class of ancient Romans even had strong social beliefs about wine consumption, watering down their wine due to the belief that only lower classes would drink wine as it came. So it seems as though passatella was the perfect example of Roman entertainment.

Russia – Tiger Has Come

Another country known for its love of alcohol is Russia. Russian vodka brands such as Stoli are renowned for their quality both around the world and in Russia itself. Russians also drink a lot of beer including the alcoholic stuff and kvas, which is a sweet, but non-alcoholic beer. In fact, there is even a cocktail named after the country – the white Russian is made of vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream.

It will come as zero surprise, then, that Russia has a ridiculous drinking game which combines fortitude with gambling. Called Tiger Has Come, players will first place their bets on the table. A leader will say ‘tiger has come’ at which point the other players will have to hide under the table and drink vodka shots until the leader has announced that the tiger has left. Players have to get back up and place another bet on the table at this point. The winner of the game (and the prize pot) is the person who is still able to get up from underneath the table!

As always, you’re encouraged to drink responsibly. But remember to have a bit of fun along the way, using these (sometimes very silly) drinking games as entertainment.

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