When European party culture encounters an epidemic

“Europeans are suffering from partying disorder!” The German weekly “Focus” stated that the new crown epidemic in Europe has rebounded to varying degrees recently, and countries have begun to tighten the already relaxed restrictions on gatherings. This has caused dissatisfaction among the people. There have been demonstrations in Germany and other places demanding to regain the “right to gather”, and underground gatherings, guerrilla gatherings and even illegal gatherings have appeared in some large cities… It can be said that the epidemic has made Europeans more enthusiastic about gathering culture. To explore the reasons why they are inseparable from this culture, we must start with historical, social, and national factors.

Family, corporate, social

“The gathering is almost as old as human beings.” According to Stocker, a cultural scholar at Humboldt University in Germany, since ancient times, humans have gathered together to hold religious ceremonies, or eat and chat while eating animal meat, and after a meal Sing and dance around the campfire. Gatherings in the present sense appeared in Italy in the 16th century. At that time, it became popular for hosts to invite guests to their homes. Later, this kind of gatherings became popular in France and were called “salons”. During the Louis XIV period, various large-scale gatherings were also popular. Party, such as drama, concert, firework festival, light festival, fancy dress party, etc.

Nowadays, European gatherings are very mature and refined, and there are three main types. The first type is family gatherings. Whenever there is a holiday or an anniversary, the host invites friends and relatives to the party, such as barbecue parties, birthday parties, Christmas dinners, bachelor parties, engagement banquets, etc. Usually the host will entertain guests with food, and the guests also want Prepare gifts such as flowers and small crafts. The second category is gatherings organized by institutions, which can be further subdivided into “no purpose gatherings” and “themed gatherings”. In European corporate culture, purposeless gatherings are very popular. Sophia, who works at a financial institution in Paris, told the Global Times reporter that the company has this kind of casual gathering every week. Colleagues drink and communicate together in the bar downstairs of the company. This way it is easier to get acquainted with colleagues. The content of another theme gathering is usually to discuss international political issues, cocktail parties for the success of the business, etc. At such gatherings, the participants dressed relatively neatly, exchanged greetings with each other with wine glasses in hand, and the food was mostly buffet. The third category is social gatherings, such as football matches, concerts, and gatherings. Such gatherings are more widely attended, and people often use this as a show, so it is more entertaining and even political. Such gatherings require government control due to their huge impact.

North and South gatherings are different

Different parts of Europe also have different gathering characteristics. For example, “Stammtisch” (German “fixed table”), which is particularly popular in the German-speaking area, refers to a table reserved for the same group of guests at a specific time. Participating in this “fixed table” is not only for friends and family, but also for many different themes, such as music, sports, philosophy, politics, cars, etc. This kind of fixed table emphasizes teamwork, common interests and enhanced connection. In countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, bar parties are popular, where everyone has a drink, chatting, or watching football matches.

There are also differences in the gathering culture of the countries of South and North Europe: Italy, Spain, Portugal and other southern European countries value family gatherings more, and Nordic people are more willing to meet new friends in public places such as bars and discos. The reason for this difference is related to the family structure. In southern European countries, multi-person households dominate, while the proportion of single-person households in Northern Europe is higher. In some large cities, nearly half of the people are single.

Go online or return to family?

Stocker believes that the European party culture reflects the active communication and interaction between people, and in a sense, it is even a “social stabilizer.” For example, European governments at all levels are very supportive of football, and even have stakes in local football clubs. Young people in the stadium are a kind of embodiment of gatherings, venting their happiness and anger by shouting. However, a new crown epidemic has changed the gathering life of Europeans. Thomas, an engineer who lives in Switzerland, told reporters, “We can’t meet with family and friends, can’t go out for activities, and loneliness and loneliness accumulate. At this time, we especially miss gatherings.” UNESCO also wrote on its official website that social distance is not allowed. Avoiding means cutting off social relationships. Therefore, when the epidemic spread in Europe, “balcony concerts” appeared in Italy, the British moved drinking parties online, and many people held virtual parties through mobile apps.

However, virtual parties lack direct experience after all. When countries relax social distancing restrictions, some people are eager to resume various gatherings, and they don’t even remember that there are restrictions. Just last month, the Golf Association within the Irish Parliament held a dinner celebrating its 50th anniversary. Participants included Dara Caliri, the Minister of Agriculture of Ireland, Samus Woolf, Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland, and the European Union. Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan and many other dignitaries, with a total number of 81 people. However, at that time, Ireland had tightened the “restrictions on gatherings”, and the number of indoor and outdoor gatherings was reduced from the original maximum of 50 and 200 to 6 and 15 respectively. In addition, there are also some young people who knowingly commit crimes and convene offline “new crown parties” on social media. Some parties have thousands or even tens of thousands of people. Police across Germany have dispersed many such parties.

Compared with Asians who pay more attention to family culture, Europeans prefer party culture. Young Europeans move away from their parents’ homes as adults, and family members are not as close as Asians. This makes party culture to some extent a main line of European daily life. After the new crown crackdown, although the party culture is gradually returning, it will take some time to repair the scars left by the epidemic. This also makes Europeans think about whether they should pay more attention to the family.