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Cultural Events & Drinking – Should You Partake?

Posted on: Monday, February 27th, 2017

The Calgary Stampede is one of the biggest attractions in Canada, a major source of tourism and economic growth for our city, and widely known as one giant party. It has these things in common with St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, Cinco De Mayo and Mardi Gras. They are all big, celebratory, cultural events that involve late nights, socializing, and more often than not, alcohol.


Alcoholic drinks can play a very relevant role in cultural and social events, and the act of drinking doesn’t typically take place just anywhere. The creation of certain times and places appropriate for drinking have the purpose of social integration, classlessness, and community. Cultural festivals and events are often designated as places and times where alcohol consumption is appropriate, and even encouraged.



But drinking and celebrating at some cultural events can be detrimental…

Mardi Gras is only a few days away, so let’s use it as an example:


  • On the eve of Mardi Gras 2016, there was a big rise in the amount of heroin abuse, resulting in the doubling of suspected overdoses. 
  • Mardi Gras marks a rise in promiscuity… according to a study, 32% of festival-goers engaged in intercourse with someone they had met there.
  • In 2009, there were 22 deaths and over 1000 injured individuals as a result of driving during Mardi Gras… 68% of which were alcohol-related 
  • Additionally, this type of celebration promotes binge drinking and over-consumption, which can increase your risks of things like diabetes and disordered eating and drinking patterns.



So why do people drink at these type of events?

According to this study, “the connection between drinking and festivity is so strong that we often find it hard to imagine one without the other”. Part of the reasoning behind this is because festivals and events like Mardi Gras provide an opportunity for the relaxation of social norms. These opportunities create somewhat of an “alternate reality” and the freedom to essentially act like a fool… and get away with it! The ability to partake in the madness of festivals like Mardi Gras allows people to counterbalance their day-to-day lives with subconscious desires and realities.

Additionally, it has been said that human beings are incredibly invested in the idea of rituals and milestone celebrations, and alcohol often plays a role in these rituals and milestones. Events like Mardi Gras and the Calgary Stampede offer people the same sense of ritual and celebration on a collective and cultural level!


So how do I find the perfect balance?

One key step in being able to find a good balance is to be sure to know the signs of when alcohol consumption may be becoming detrimental or addictive. Some of these signs are:


  • You feel guilty or embarrassed about your drinking habits
  • You find yourself lying or making excuses about your drinking.
  • People in your social circles and family have expressed worry over your drinking.
  • Drinking is your primary way of relaxing or feeling better.
  • You frequently black out when drinking alcohol.
  • You often find yourself drinking more than you intended to.


Go ahead, indulge, and have a little fun… with or without alcohol involved! Just make sure you are doing so responsibly and at no cost to your health and well-being.

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