Ever heard of Tipaton Tammikuu? This Finnish pronunciation roughly translates as 'January without a drop' and in 2005 became the name of the very first official alcohol break campaign ever. Following Finland, several other countries soon followed with similar initiatives, including the Netherlands with IkPas. Although the success of all actions indicates that the need for a break was already dormant in many places, Tipaton Tammikuu was the start of the alcohol break worldwide.
Tipaton Tammiwat? Ohhh, Dry January!
Since Alcohol Change UK organized the first Dry January in 2013, this term has become the name for a January without alcohol. However, this Dry January – an alcohol detox after a booze-filled December – is directly derived from the Finnish Tipaton Tammikuu.
A solidarity action
Although Finland introduced its first official alcohol break promotion in 2005 under the name Tipaton Tammikuu, the 'January without a drop' had been a regular practice among many Finns for some time. This tradition dates back to 1942. President Väinõ Hakkila then called on the Finnish population to give up all alcohol during the month of January, in solidarity with the Finnish soldiers who were fighting in World War II at that time. The starting point of Tipaton Tammikuu has now changed more into finding a new, healthy balance after the alcohol-filled month of December. Many Finns are in solidarity with each other in this: about 25% of the adult population (Finland has about 3.3 million adults) participate in Tipaton Tammikuu.
Why a month?
After the war, January remained popular as a month for a break. Going without drinking for a month allows you to 'reset' your body: it makes you sleep better, gives you more energy and gives your liver the chance to recover after a month of 'overworking'. You may also lose some weight by not taking high-calorie alcoholic drinks. Furthermore, the mental boost that you gain by not drinking alcohol for a period of time. A month is long enough to notice that without alcohol you will not only feel physically fit, but also mentally.
From IkPas to Oscober and Dry July
So Tipaton Tammikuu was the alcohol break that inspired countries worldwide to start similar campaigns. For example, Australia started FebFast and Dry July in 2008. Oscober joined this in 2009. In 2012, Alcohol Change UK introduced Dry January in the UK. (Fun fact: about 6.5 million Britons participated in this campaign in 2020!) A year later, the Netherlands followed with IkPas and in 2014 Canada received its own Défi 28 Jours. More countries are still following the healthy Finnish example. For example, Switzerland organized the first Dry January last year.
All these initiatives show that more and more people worldwide would like to experience what it is like not to drink alcohol for a while. If only the Finns had done a good job!