The phrase “tipaton tammikuu” literally means “drop-less January”, though is often translated in English to Dry January. But what is it, and why does it happen in Finland?

Tipaton Tammikuu is the tradtion of complete abstinence from alcohol for the month of January. The tradition started in 1942 with the aim of civilising Finns and improving moral conditions in the country, and was supported by Parliamentary president Väinö Hakkila. The long tradition of Tipaton Tammikuu means that now about 20 to 25% of the adult population of Finland voluntarily gives up alcohol for one month in January following the excesses of the Christmas party season. Tipaton Tammikuu is seen as a way of regaining one’s health after drinking too much alcohol in December.

There are many health benefits from having a month off alcohol. After stopping drinking you should notice your sleep improve and that you feel more rested. Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to restless sleep as soon as the alcohol wears off. With more enegry, it can be easier to exercise and of course cutting the calories that you would have had from the alcohol can help you lose weight. Giving your body a break from alcohol allows your liver to recover and helps your blood glucose levels stabilise.

Not drinking alcohol for one month can help your mental health as well. Although many people feel drinking alcohol helps them to relax, over the long term alcohol use increases anxiety and stress symptoms due to the way alcohol affects our brain chemistry. You should therefore notice your mood is more stable and that you feel happier.

UK organisation Liver Trust recommends that people who voluntarily take part in abstinence from alcohol for one month in January use it as a way to change alcohol drinking habits for the rest of the year. They recommend that after January, people pledge to have two to three alcohol free days per week for the rest of the year