There are a lot of different cultures worth of attention, nevertheless the focus of this paper will be concentrated on the cultures of Caribbean islands, namely Haitians and Puerto Ricans. These people live in neighbouring islands in subtropics and mostly in provincial village areas. This fact certainly influences their life habits and style, apparently attitude to alcoholic beverages and drugs.
The research of database explored 14 documents, which contain data on the alcohol in lives of both societies. Haitians are mentioned in 5 documents, while Puerto-Ricans in 9 articles. The study of cultures in the documents covers period since 16th century till 21st, however most attention is paid to the frame of 19th-21st century. The information covers both positive and negative sides of alcohol usage in the context of social trends, family behaviour and interpersonal attitude. As a part of food culture alcohol is mentioned also, describing preferences of people in both cultures.
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Speaking about Puerto-Ricans it is important that only men consume alcohol. Those who overuse alcohol, also known as drunkards, are considered to violate family values and taking children’s money. As family traditions are extremely strong in the culture of Puerto-Ricans, most of drunkards tend to be without families. Mostly they even are not considered as men from community point of view, as they do not perform duties and obligations of a real man. Sober members of society can provoke two drunkards to fight, thinking they do not have enough power to hurt each other or provoke injury. These actions are treated as fun. For men in Puerto Rico bars are favourite place of meetings.
If we speak about women, there are few cases when they consume alcohol: on special occasions and when the husband accompanies his wife. Kind of alcoholic beverage is connected with status of household. For instance, guest in the house of Puerto Rican preferably will be served with beer or rum. For lower socio-economic families who are not able to afford rum, a consumption of so called “canita” is often, which is cheap illegal analogue of rum. Especially for rural stores it is the best trading beverage. Interesting to mention that for lower rural class drinking by women and men together is not so common. This stratus mostly drinks separately from each other and women can even conceal from viewers.
Lots of poor families try to support themselves producing home-made rum, which is actually illegal, so policemen have to control such actions. Men try to excuse themselves and prove that it is made just for family purpose, but nevertheless for many of them it becomes subsidiary economic activity. There are special people who sell the illegal rum constantly and are called bootleggers, in villages all residents know them but cover in front of law and police.
Canita is believed to be less toxic, so some who can afford the legal beverage still prefer to drink canita. After harvest times it is common to gather at someone’s household and drink, gamble and dance. It is also important to note that selling of illegal liquors make less average subsidiary economic profit than lottery for instance.
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The neighbouring Haitians are likely similar in alcohol habits with Puerto-Ricans. Alcohol is mostly used in the evenings after hard working days or Saturday evenings when men gather for good conversation and dances. Haitians women, the same as Puerto-Ricans, mostly do not drink except for big occasions and are accompanied by men. The culture of men domination is preserved since ancient times there. Among other beverages women prefer red wine.
Generally speaking, it is hard to admit alcoholism as a feature of Haitian culture. Men consume alcohol only on occasions and control the amount of alcohol. Community does not accept drunkards and for preventing such consequenses, local sellers can even refuse to sell alcoholic beverage to potential drunkards. Important point is that community also tries to help those who already have problems with alcohol but would like to get rid of them.
Haitians have interesting habit of consuming alcohol, that should be mentioned. First of all, if the drink is shared among people, the host who opens the bottle should drink first in order to show that drink is not poisoned and deserve the trust. Second, if the bottle is already on the table the person who is going to drink, should pour few drops out of the bottle for spirits. Existing of such habit shows that Haitians put more connection in spiritual life and earth food habits.
The typical drink for this area is also home made liquor called clairin. It is a type of wide rum, which is particularly popular in provincial villages of Haiti. The same as for Puerto-Rican the misuse of alcohol is destructive for strong family traditions, so there are not too many alcohol addicted in both indigenous cultures.
In both cultures alcohol is more of a companion to some events and occasions but not the presenter of everyday life. As a lot of representatives of these cultures belong to rural working class there are not much money to spend on alcohol, besides there is enough work to do to have time after for hangover.
As database researches show, Caribbean cultures have a lot in common. Though researches focus on different aspects and there are partial information on role of alcohol in them, according to provided materials we can conclude that problem of alcoholism is non-typical for them. Alcohol is a part of culture and means for relaxation, but not a goal of existence. Traditional family habits and house holding, as well as specific work conditions prevent these people from alcoholism problems and leave to them mostly positive impact.