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Lifestyle in Russia

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Russia is known to be a highly traditional and cultural country. Here is an overview of its inhabitants lifestyle.

Russia has an international reputation which originates from the Soviet era. Due to modernization, following the falls of the wall, the Russian population has managed to westernize itself quite rapidly. In fact, the advent of technology, mass consumption, as well as women empowerment, has enabled the country to develop into a very lively society over the years although traditions are still part of Russians' everyday life. The country indeed has a rich historical and cultural heritage which is cautiously preserved by its people.

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Russia has for long had a particular reputation with foreigners. In fact, people tend to believe that most Russians are communists, only drink Vodka, eat spoonful of caviar and are bundled up all year round in fur coats with ouchanka on their head. They also tend to think of blue eyed and blonde women.

But in Russia, do not throw your glass over your shoulder once it is empty and you do not kiss your host or hostess on the lips. This tradition is only reserved for special occasions. Hence, these perceptions are real to some extent. The fact is that the Russia population has undergone a vast westernization process over the years.

Family

Families are deemed to be sacred in Russia, although divorce is becoming more and more common. Russian women still get married at a quite young age and dedicate the rest of their lives to their children's education and their homes.

Moreover, Russians have a great sense of hospitality. They are very welcoming towards their friends and relatives whether or not they are closely related. However, you are not likely to find several generations of the same family living under the same roof. This is quite rare. Habits and lifestyles have greatly changed over the years in spite of the economic and real estate crisis which have not spared the country.

Tips

It is better to be aware of Russian customs and beliefs before traveling there. For instance, shaking hands with someone over a threshold is deemed to be a bad omen. Moreover, cleanliness is considered as a sign of respect. So do not mind taking off your shoes while entering a Russian house to put on slippers.

Also consider buying a gift if you are invited over for lunch or dinner by a Russian family. If you prefer buying a flower bouquet, make sure to take an odd number of flowers. In fact, flowers in even numbers are used for funerals.

Do not be surprised to start the meal with Vodka. Feel free to make a short speech to thank your hosts after the meal. This will lead to a toast to cheer you.

Russian cuisine

Your expat experience shall not be complete until you have tasted the Russian cuisine. Russians are not only famous for drinking Vodka but also for mors, sbiten, medok and kvas which is a slight sparkling alcoholic drink made of fermented rye bread.

When the weather is bitter cold, Russians rely on black tea, to which they often add milk or lemon juice.

For breakfast, you are very likely to have sandwich, pancakes, omelets, or porridge (kasha), all accompanied by tea or coffee in major Russian cities. Lunch, on the other hand, is more comforting and copious as it usually consists of a soup (almost every meal starts with a soup, including the famous borscht), fish or meat, salad and dessert. In the evening, expect a family dinner which will be quite similar to lunch, including a soup, a main course and dessert.

Note that fish is an important component of Russian meals.

Significant days

December 31st - January 1st: New Year, January 7th: Orthodox Christmas, January 13th-14th: Old New Year, January 25th: St. Tatiana's Day, Students Day, February 14th: Valentine's Day, February 23rd: Day of the Defender of the Motherland, March 8th: International Women's Day, April 1st: April Fool, May 1st: Spring and Labor Day( International Workers' Solidarity Day), May 9th: Victory Day, June 1st: International Day for the Protection of Children, June 12th: Russia Day (Feast of the adoption of the sovereignty of the Russian Federation), September 1st: Knowledge Day, 1st Sunday of October: Teachers Day, November 4th: Russia National Unity Day, last Sunday of November: Mother's Day, December 12th: Constitution Day.

 Useful links:

Expat.com – Russia Forum 
Britannica – Lifestyles in Russia www.britannica.com
Russia Beyond the Headlines rbth.com

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