A toast to abstinence

By Laura TomassiniLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

"E Gudden hëppen", a "Patt" after the football game, the "Fiederwäissen" at the beginning of the autumn season, all those opportunities to grab a drink belong to the Luxembourg culture, like the "Kachkéis" on a piece of bread. But there are also people who refuse intoxicating drinks. Those who prefer to reach for the soft drink at parties and are marvelled at in the Grand Duchy as if they came from another world.

It is hardly surprising that non-drinkers in Luxembourg are more of a rarity than the norm, as highlights such as the annual Picadilly, the Grevenmacher Grape and Wine Festival, and the numerous free beers served by high school students are a staple events in Luxembourg. "It's actually a paradox, because alcohol is a drug that causes a lot of damage and is only considered okay because it's part of the tradition", says Nora Schleich. The 34-year-old hasn't drunk alcoholic beverages since she was 18, because after a drunken New Year's Eve, the then-student resolved never to suffer the aftermath of being drunk again. "I had messed up too much at the time. It wasn't binge drinking or anything, but I felt so bad afterward that I just didn't want to have that again." In her clique at the time, it was considered normal to drink properly while partying and also drive afterwards – it was just cool to have a "béisen Owend" ("mad evening") with each other.

"People just never really reflected on it and drunk driving accidents were dismissed as trivial offenses in this country, but when I later did some research on the topic, health prevention suddenly became interesting and I was shocked by the effects and long-term consequences that alcohol consumption can have", Nora says. The alcoholism of a good friend's mother also deterred the young Luxembourger, who before that only liked the really sugary drinks anyway and drank along more out of sociability than true enjoyment. "I find the concept of indulging in alcohol relatively questionable. Because it's not a reward, it's actually just poison to the body."

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