People in Russia

Russian Traditions and Customs

Hi there! Welcome to my page about people in Russia. It is a quite big subject. Please keep checking up my website for more updates and new information.

I want to start my story about people in Russia from common Russian superstitions and customs. Let me tell you, my friends, Russians are really superstitious folks. I’m not exception. Many times I caught myself doing one of those things… Anyways, here is some knowledge from Your Moscow Russia Travel Guide. It helps you to understand Russian culture a little bit better and hopefully it will help you to avoid some misunderstandings.

Everybody knows about black cat crossing your way. Here is some new stuff for you, my reader. Enjoy!

Russian people

If you give someone flowers, make sure there are an odd number of flowers in the bouquet. Even-numbered bouquets are appropriate ONLY for the cemetery.

Don’t shake hands or pass something to someone through a doorway.

Take off your shoes whenever you enter someone’s house, even when they insist that you don’t.

Never step over small children (when they are sitting on the floor playing, for example). It stunts their growth.

Sit down for a moment (with bags packed and shoes on) to collect your thoughts before leaving for a trip. Religious people pray at that moment.

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Don’t clink glasses when drinking to someone who passed away.

Its bad luck to demonstrate on your own body how someone else broke their arm, cut themselves, etc.

If you are leaving out for a trip or juts go out somewhere and forget something, would be better if you do not return for it. However, if you must do that (left your passport behind, for example), be sure to look in the mirror to ward off bad luck before you leave the house again.

Spit over your LEFT shoulder three times to keep from jinxing something (the devil could be lurking there!). Talking about black cat – you defiantly do that if poor cat crosses your way. Also, don’t say nice things about a newborn baby. You could jinx it. If something does slip out, be sure to spit tree times!

Don’t give towels or handkerchiefs as a gift. It is a bad luck.

When you are leaving a party, you may be offered a drink for the road - “na pososhok”. “Pososhok” literary means a walking stick. If you really intend to leave, you would be wise not to turn it down.

When you enter someone’s home and they don’t say “Hello” (“zdravstvuyte”) to you, don’t be surprised. Just say “Hello” first, and they will reply. The guest is supposed to be the first to greet.

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Here are some more advices about Russian etiquette and customs in Russia:

Meeting - the typical greeting is a firm, almost bone-crushing handshake while maintaining direct eye contact and giving the appropriate greeting for the time of day. When men shake hands with women, the handshake is less firm. When female friends meet, they kiss on the cheek three times, starting with the left and then alternating. When close male friends meet, they may pat each other on the back and hug.

Naming conventions - Russian names are comprised of first name, which is the person's given name, middle name, which is a patronymic or a version of the father's first name formed by adding '- vich' or '-ovich' for a male and '-avna' or '- ovna' for a female. The son of Ivan would have a patronymic of Ivanovich while the daughter's patronymic would be Ivanovna; last name, which is the family or surname. In formal situations, people use all three names (ex. Anna Matveevna Pavlova – famous Russian ballerina). Friends and close acquaintances may refer to each other by their first name and patronymic. Close friends and family members call each other by their first name only.

Gift giving - takes place between family and close friends on birthdays, New Year, and Orthodox Christmas. If you are invited to a Russian home for a meal, bring a small gift. Male guests are expected to bring flowers. Do not give yellow flowers though. Russians often protest when they are offered a gift. Reply that it is a little something and offer the gift again and it will generally be accepted. Very important - do not give a baby gift until after the baby is born. It is bad luck to do so sooner.

If you are invited to a Russian's house - arrive on time or no more than 15 minutes later than invited. Remove your outdoor shoes; you may be given slippers to wear. Dress in clothes you might wear to the office. Dressing well shows respect for your hosts. Expect to be treated with honor and respect. Offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served. This may be turned down out of politeness. Asking 'are you sure?' allows the hostess to accept your offer.

Table manners - are generally casual. Some important things are: the oldest or most honored guest is served first; do not begin eating until the host invites you to start. You will often be urged to take second helpings. Men pour drinks for women seated next to them. Leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that your hosts have provided ample hospitality. Do not get up until you are invited to leave the table.

That’s it for now.

Did you experience with some other Russian superstitions and customs and want to share with me? Please do. I will be happy to hear from you.

You Moscow Russia Travel Guide.

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