Meet the Russians

5 things you never knew about Russian culture

With Vladimir Putin’s face flashing up in tabloids and mainstream media, people get more and more interested in Russia and Russian culture. Since in the media he is either portrayed as evil or a hero, a lot of readers and researchers can’t really decide whether Russians are a good or a bad nation. Neither I’d say.

The Russian nation – as any other nation –  have their own quirks, weirds habits and, of course, respectable and admirable traits. As a Russian expat, I am ready to tell you all about my nation and things that other nations would find peculiar.

1 Russian houses and flats are spotless

If you happen to get invited to a Russian home, you will definitely be astonished at how spotless the place is. I promise that you won’t find a tiny particle of dust on the bookshelves, a dirty cup hanging around or a stray hair lying on the floor. I bet, a feeling of shame will start creeping onto you undermining your confidence and you will throw a tough question at yourself, “Why can’t I keep my place as tidy? Lazy me!”

Don’t rush into any judgment. Believe me, their place is as messy and dirty as yours. You just don’t know it. In fact, no one knows. Only those who come over uninvited. Just rudely turn up at the doorstep without giving the Russian host or hostess any time to prepare. Professional “mess concealers” know how to tidy up within seconds, although I wouldn’t risk it – you don’t want to be in their bad books.

2 Russians always take their shoes off

Don’t try to convince a Russian person to keep their shoes on when they come over to your place. They will still take their shoes off as to not make any mess in your home. If you are curious about why this is the case, then I am the right person to tell you.

Russia is a country of a long winter and very short summer. There’s also spring when the heaps of snow start to melt and autumn when it rains almost every day. If we don’t take our shoes off our floorboards will soon disappear under layers of dirt, composted leaves, soil and melted snow.

Bad weather is not the only reason for this strange habit. There are a lot of building sites with trucks coming in and out leaving dust and dirt scattered around the city. There are also a lot of parks and road cribs that are not looked after. The rain just washes the soil off onto the streets and roads. The cars and people spread it further along.

When I moved to England it took me half a year to get used to people walking around their houses with shoes on.

3 Russian culture is all about superstitions

superstitions in Russian culture

Not only are Russians very religious but superstitious too. I lose count when I think of how many superstitions are there in the world of a Russian person. They blame their misfortunes on everything and everyone and are always on the lookout for bad omens.

Russian people believe that:

  • If you see a black cat crossing your path you must not cross its path. Just skirt around. No matter whether you are late for work or someone is critically injured and is in desperate need for your help. Just avoid the cat. Run as far as you can and never let it find you.
  • You have to sit in silence for a minute before embarking on a long journey. It could be a holiday or a business trip and it will go smoothly and safely so do sit down for a minute. Also the sitting gives you the last chance to think of what you could’ve forgotten to pack in your bag. People who are less forgetful might think about something else or have a vacant mind – just sitting because everyone says so.
  • If you’ve just given birth to a beautiful or an ugly baby never show it to anyone. Russians believe that those who look at the baby might put the evil eye on it and bring bad luck.
  • When you whistle indoors you will make yourself and the homeowners broke. So If you love whistling please don’t do that in someone’s house. I guarantee that 99.9% you will be told off and asked to stop immediately.

If you are fascinated by the superstitions that are part of the Russian culture, there is a whole article for you about Russian superstitions.

4 Russians are very easy to make friends with

Russians are definitely the easiest people to make friends with.

I believe that you have heard that the Russian nation are very cold, moody and closed off. Although once you strike up a conversation with a Russian person, they are your friend. In the past, as strange as it may sound, I became friends with people in the course of a few weeks. It’s never awkward to be around Russians because if they don’t like you they will make it clear. You won’t be hanging around thinking, “Am I welcome here? Do they enjoy my company?” You will know.

Russian culture is all about sharing and pouring problems onto other people. We get very close because we are hopeless at hiding emotions and personal problems. And, as we are all aware, once you’ve shared a secret with someone, you better befriend them.

5 You must respect the elderly in Russian culture

Russian children are taught from a very young age that they must respect the elderly. By the elderly, I don’t just mean grandparents but all oldies even those who you don’t know or care for.

You should give up your seat on the bus and offer it to an elderly person. If you see an old woman carrying a heavy bag, ask whether she needs a hand. And you must never argue with them or start defending your generation knowing how much they love to say that nowadays youngsters are vulgar and frivolous. Certainly not like in old days – when they were young.

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