When foreigners talk or think about Russia it provokes mixed feelings. From one side, such things as exotic Russian food or Russian way of driving terrify them. From another side, everybody is captured by the Russian ballet or architecture. Sometimes people are disappointed by not seeing bears on the street (according to all stereotypes about Russia) or when they realize that not every Russian can dance Kozachok. Anyway, nobody can stay imperturbable when they talk about this splendid country. So today we would like to give you a short overview of Russian traditions and if you want to know more about some traditions, please contact us!
In our previous article we retold that Russia has a big drinking culture which includes not just variety of drinks but also a lot of different glasses for each drink. Today we go further with this topic and present you such a nice way of communication during a party as toasts. In Russia you can`t just take you glass and say «Cheers!» No way! Each toast should be devoted to a person or to an occasion why people gather together. There are also rules how to give this short (sometimes long speech). First toast is given by the person who organizes a party or an event and after him or her it goes up to people`s whish. Also, it`s important to follow a special order of toast`s topics. If the occasion of a party is birthday, first toast is devoted to birthday person, second toast should be about his or her parents, the third toast would be about birthday wishes and so on…The best way to understand Russian system of toasts is to join a Russian family during an event.
If you give a look to soviet period of Russia, you will find out that in the Soviet Union there we no night clubs (they appeared in late 80-th), all restaurants or cafes cost a lot of money and it was not possible to spend time with friends as we do it now. But this circumstance inspired people to organize their spare time in a new way. After parties which took place in apartments or just on random evening people gathered in the kitchen to talk about their lives, families, jobs or love relationships. Till nowadays it`s popular to have such kitchen talks because the atmosphere of such parties is very intimate, people open their thoughts and souls just to people who they know very well und whom they trust. What can be better when you seat with your friends in a cozy place with friends while talking and drinking tea or wine?
A bag with bags
If you`ve read our previous article you already know what a bag with bags means. However, keeping bags can sound a bit crazy, it`s absolutely reasonable. All the bags from supermarkets will be reused for the garbage. In turn it means that Russians don`t buy special bags for the garbage as they reuse them. Also, there are a lot of people who don`t throw away their bags and…wash them to use a couple of times more till bags will be absolutely damaged. So, it`s kind of contribution into environmental responsibility.
Have you ever been to a Russian family while celebrating or having a party? If yes, you definitely saw a plate full of cut cucumbers or tomatoes (not rare that they are kitchen-garden) which are offered to guests as snacks when they drink some alcohol or when people wait for the main dish. Also, you can find plates with home-made canned cabbage, mushrooms or even bush pumpkin. These vegetable snacks help people to be more energetic during the evening and also covers trends of bio-products and vegetarianism.
Linguists try to give a full definition of Banya but all efforts fail unfortunately. Such equivalents as e.g. sauna, steam bath don`t describe the concept fully. After this magnetic ritual which includes seating in a hot place, jumping into cold water or into ice-hole during banya session and washing itself, people whish each other «С лёгким паром!» what can be translated «With a light steam!» Do you understand what does it mean? To get the idea of Russian banya and light steam we advise you to try real Russian banya as soon as possible.
Almost all foreigners are afraid of travelling to Russia in winter because it`s cold. But this fear should disappear because in February or at the beginning of March there`s a one-week holiday which is called Maslenitsa. This holiday symbolizes the end of the winter and coming warmth. To celebrate and to make spring coming faster people bake a lot of pancakes. Round and yellow Russian crepes remind the sun and according to folk belief, if you cooked and ate a lot of them, the spring will come very fast. The best pancakes are with caviar, sour cream, smoked salmon, savory fillings, condensed milk and berry jam. We are sure, you will definitely like this holiday but be ready to get a couple of kg!
One more nice Russian word which is difficult to translate into different languages – гостинец. Probably you observed a situation when people give each other small presents with no reason? For example, your colleague had been to a vacation somewhere and he or she brings almost to all people in the office small presents as chocolate, soap, towels etc. when he/she is back. Or if Russians visit somebody, they buy candys for children in the host family. Sometimes foreigners are surprised with this tradition and don`t understand why fairing is so popular in all spheres of life. We could name a lot of such situations but it`s better if you find it on your own.
We are very glad to get acquainted you with Russian culture and Russian every day life! Hopefully this article helps you to get closer to Russian way of being. If you liked something in the article, if you`re surprised or you noticed some interesting facts which we don’t mention in the article, please let us know in the comments!
Author: Alexandra Shilovskaya