National Geographic : 1917 Mar
•', t " . ,^ ',i , :i . . AFTERNOON TEA IN RUSSIA The popularity of the cup which cheers but does not inebriate has increased enormously since vodka went out of faslinon. Another'avorite table beverage of the Russians is kvass, the liquor drawn off soaked black bread or white bread. ment of popular aid to the military forces of the country, is the immense expansion of the already existing cooperative, socie ties since the beginning of the war. This. growth is very closely connected with the abolition of vodka and the consequent entire sobriety of the whole nation for a period which is already of nearly three years' duration. Strong drink had always been the one absolutely essential thing for the peasant. Whatever else he lacked, he must have his drunken spree once in so often, and no obligation, no duty, and no work ever interfered with the far more important task of periodically getting drunk. As each spree took at least three days' time-one day to get drunk, one to lie drunk, and one to recover his senses the working time of the average peasant was greatly diminished. To this was added the due observance of all State and Church holidays and anniversaries, and also bad weather, so that in all prob ability 150 days would be a large labor average for a year. , - When the Emperor "by a stroke of the peh," as is so often said, wiped out the great curse of drink from the people, he not only added greatly to their economic forces, but to their military fitness. It is now widely felt that one of the most po tent reasons for the ill-success of the Russian arms in the Japanese war was the constant state of intoxication of so many of the officers and men. With the ending of vodka, however, a great deal of spare time was thrown on the people. Drinking was one of the chief amusements of millions of men who could neither read nor write, and if dis orders, if the mischief which Satan al ways finds for idle hands, was to be avoided, something must be substituted in the way of clean and healthful recrea tion.