World Temperance Day / World Alcohol-Free Day Date in the current year: October 3, 2024

World Temperance Day / World Alcohol-Free Day World Temperance Day, also known as World Alcohol-Free Day, is observed annually on October 3. It was created to raise public awareness of the temperance movement and encourage people to consume alcoholic beverages in moderation or even give up alcohol altogether.

The word “temperance” has several meanings. In the broad sense of the term, it is defined as moderation or voluntary self-restraint in various spheres of life and is associated with chastity, forgiveness, humility, mercy, modesty, and other virtues. In a narrower sense, temperance refers to alcohol moderation or complete abstinence from alcohol (teetotalism).

The temperance movement is a social movement that promotes temperance or complete abstinence from alcohol. It originated in late 17th-century North America. Back then, alcohol was an important part of life in the colonies as a beverage, medicine, and commodity. The first people to campaign in support of restricting the sale and distribution of alcohol were Native Americans because alcoholic beverages brought by colonists had inflicted serious social and cultural damage on their communities. The idea of temperance was further promoted by Methodist and Calvinist ministers.

The first temperance society in North America was founded in Delaware County, Pennsylvania in 1819. The temperance movement was popularized across the country during a Protestant religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening, which called for social reform that included temperance and abolitionism. A stricter form of temperance called teetotalism (total personal abstinence from alcohol) emerged in the 1830s.

In the second half of the 19th century, the temperance movement became a significant mass movement that encouraged teetotalism. Its spread resulted in the establishment of the Prohibition Party in 1869 and eventual prohibition of the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States. The Prohibition era in the US lasted from 1920 to 1933.

Prohibition turned out a failure because it had a negative impact on government tax revenues, encouraged criminal activity associated with the illegal production, sale, and smuggling of alcohol, and created unhealthy drinking habits (because many people, of course, still drank). Most countries that had prohibition laws had repealed them by the mid-1930s, and the popularity of the temperance movement began to decline. It exists to this day, but the modern version of the movement focuses on the health and societal effects of alcohol.

It is unclear who and when came up with the idea of celebrating World Temperance Day, but the choice of the date makes sense. October 3 is the death anniversary of John B. Finch, an American politician and educator who is best known for serving as the 5th chairman of the Prohibition Party. Finch gave speeches and lectures on temperance and founded Red Ribbon reform clubs throughout the state of Nebraska. Members of these clubs signed a pledge to never make, buy, sell, use, or serve liquor, and wore red ribbons on their lapels as a sign of this pledge.

World Temperance Day is a day to think about the health effects of alcohol and its negative impact on society. You can observe it by learning more about the temperance movement, watching a documentary about the temperance movement or Prohibition, abstaining from alcohol at least for a day or even take a pledge to give up drinking, and spreading the word on social media with the hashtag #WorldTemperanceDay.

World Temperance Day coincides with World Alcohol-Free Day, which is promoted by Movendi International. Movendi International is a global social movement within the larger temperance movement that promotes abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.

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World Temperance Day, World Alcohol-Free Day, international observances, unofficial holidays, temperance movement