In 1913, at the initiative of the Orthodox Church, the first Russian Sobriety Day was organized. The annual celebration of All-Russian Sobriety Day on 11 September (New Style) was adopted by the Holy Synod decision of March 1914.
The date was not chosen by chance – on this day, Orthodox Christians mark the day of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. They should observe a strict fast.
In Russia, all wine shops were closed and the sale of alcoholic beverages stopped these days. In Orthodox churches, processions were held and proclamations were read about the significance of a sober lifestyle. This was followed by a prayer service to John the Baptist. Anyone could take a vow of sobriety, which was blessed by a priest.
Currently, the churches are holding actions “Light a candle for the healing of those suffering from the disease of drunkenness.” People who want to recover from the scourge pray to the icon “The Inexhaustible Cup.” It heals from diseases, alcoholism and drug addiction. Priests recommend spending this day in action – go to the church, light a candle and pray for all those suffering from the disease of drunkenness.
According to the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), the limit of alcohol consumption, after which the degradation of society begins, is the consumption of pure alcohol in the amount of 8 liters/year per capita.
In 1913, when Russia celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Romanov Imperial House, the amount of alcohol per capita was 4.7 liters. In the pre-revolutionary years, 43% of the male population in the country remained teetotallers.
By 1979, the percentage of non-drinking men had dropped to 0.6%. Currently, the amount of alcohol per capita, including minors, is 18 liters of alcohol/year. This is far beyond the norm.
Today, All-Russian Sobriety Day is more relevant than ever. A reasonable and conscious choice of a sober lifestyle is one of the main challenges of modern society. On this day, various public and youth organizations hold thematic events, exhibitions, flash mobs and other activities in many Russian cities.
Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova