Russia

Want to learn more about Russia, its culture and people, holidays and traditions? In this secton you will find useful information about Russia and other ex-USSR Russian-speaking countries, like Ukraine and Belarus, traveling tips and more. It's always a good idea to learn about the culture when learning a foreign language because theese two are so much interconnected and you'll find that many words and expressions reflect that. So why don't we get started?

Do Russians smile?


That's one of the questions I get asked by foreigners when they visit Russia for the first time. I have a few American friends living in Yekaterinburg. They figured out that Russians don't smile in public. They attributed this largely to the hardships the Russian people have experienced over past few centuries. In fact, we went walking down the street with my American friend and we made a bet on who would be the first to find someone smiling. We both lost. Neither of us found anyone smiling.

 

 

This is a sad part of the reality of living in Russia. Outside, you don't see a whole lot of people expressing themselves, greeting each other, or even laughting that much. However, when you're invited to their homes, you see a different picture. Russians express their hospitality at home around the table drinking tea and eating candies and cakes. They talk a lot about their families, work, politics and how Putin is turning the country to USSR again... And they smile and laugh meanwhile. See, this is what's interesting. We get caught in a trap of trying to comprehend life by simplifying everything. This creates stereotypes such as Russians don't smile. But it makes us blind to see a greater picture. I want to say that the truth is greater than just Russians don't smile. I bet they do. And not just in the home drinking tea. I want to hear, learn, and explore a greater, deeper story of Russian life. I'm going to prove that Russians smile too:)

Please share pictures and stories that proves that Russians smile. Please contribute to this wonderful story through your comments.

Ice City Yekaterinburg , Russia

The Ice City on the main square of Yekaterinburg, Russia devoted to Anton Chekhov's Cherry Tree Garden theme this year. In 2010 Russia is celebrating this famous writer's 150th anniversary.In the middle of the Ice City is a  44-meter high artificial New Year tree. This year is it almost 2 times higher that last year. The construction weights around 44 tons. It has 3200 fir branches with lights 15,000 meters of artificial needles. The lights change according to the music being played.

 

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yekaterinburgShort tour of my hometown Yekaterinburg

Краткая поездка по Екатеринбургу

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Shrovetide

shrovetideAt the end of February till the beginning of March, a week before the Lent (Великий пост), they celebrate Shrovetide (Масленица). This is the only authentic Slavic holiday that didn't get affected by anything and that still had some traits of heathendom - they cook pancakes that resemble the Sun - and tell you about the coming Summer. Among traditions of Shrovetide week - ice slides/hills going, riding colorfully decorated with carpets sledges (сани), singing songs and family partying. The culmination of the Shrovetide week is the farewell to the Shrovetide - the burning of a saw dummy of Shrovetide dressed in old clothes as a symbol of the Winter funeral of everything that has passes away and of the birth of everything new and full of strenth. Read more ...

Squirrels in the park

My attempt at shooting and editing a video. I love the way those kids react to seeing a squirrelSmile.  So I was riding a bike through a local park called "Центральный парк культуры и отдыха" in Yekaterinburg and I saw a lot of people watching squirrels.  I thought it was a good idea to videotape them. The kids were funny too screaming 'Мама, там белочка!' It's interesting how kids in different countries are alike. But they speak different languages and learn very fast.  So I hope you like this video. Read more ...

Russian Christmas and Old New Year

Old New Year

The night from the 13th  to the 14th of January is called Old New Year in Russia. Before 1918 in Russia they had Julian Calendar, which was 13 days ahead of  the Gregorian calendar they used in Europe. The soviet leaders in 1918 accepted the European calendar, although for as long time they had to specify if a certain date was according to the new or old style ("по новому стилю" or "по старому стилю"). So with time people got used to celebrating New Year according to the new calendar but the tradition to celebrate Old New Year remained. This holiday is more family-like and less solemn with no Kremlin bells or a president speech.

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Russian Holidays - NEW YEAR

Lesson:New Year in RussiaThe First Holiday in the calendar is New Year. There is hardly any other holiday that is anticipated this much every year. Children dream about New Year gifts, and adults about their dreams coming true and everybody wishes happiness to each other on the New Year's Eve. In schools they have different performances and in offices they have New Year parties. However this holiday is very family-like that's why many people choose to celebrate it at home or with friends. They decorate a New Year tree and set up the holiday table.

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Russian Holidays and Traditions

 

Holidays in RussiaAt the present moment there are 7 govermnent holidays in Russia. Among them are those left from previous historiс eras and those related to the modern day. There are more days off than there are government holidays.  For eхample, Christmas is not a government holiday but it is a day off

The Russian word «праздник» comes from праздный or пустой (empty)  and means a day free from work. In fact holidays in a stream of working days are a good time to rest. At the same time they are socially and culturally important allowing generations to pass on traditions.

 

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Russian musicIn this section I'd like to take a look at Russian music of different time periods: 1930-1970-es, 1980-1990-es and present day music scene, maybe modern groups like Тату.

I think it could be really interesting for many learners of Russian to learn more about Russian music and popular singers and bands. It is also a great way to further improve your language skills if you choose to translate and remember some lyrics.

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Brief History of Russian Cuisine

Russia stretches from the White Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south, from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, neighboring many other countries. Russians speak Russian and share the same culture and traditions nationwide. An essential part of every nation is its cuisine. Ethnographers start studying every nation with its cuisine because it can reveal its history, everyday life and traditions. Russian Cuisine is no exception and is a very important part of Russia and its history.

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travelingRRussia has so much to offer for you to see! With its more than 1,200 year-old history it has plenty of sightseeing places. Russia is full of contrasts : it has cold winters and hot summer, mountains and flat lands seas and the biggest lake in the world Baikal. Russia streches over 11 time zones. The most Western part is Kaliningrad and the most Eastern is Vladivostok.

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