Holidays in Russia: A Guide

This resource provides a list of those holidays of cultural importance in Russia. Dates, days off, and histories of the holidays are all included.   New Year / Новый Год December 31, 2018 – January 1, 2019 (days off: Dec 30, 2018 – Jan 8, 2019) Russians will work a half day on Saturday, Dec […]

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The Hardest Languages in Russia Aren’t Russian

According to the All-Russian 2010 census, Russia is inhabited by speakers of more than 150 different languages. Most of these various languages can be divided into four language families: Altai, Indo-European, North Caucasian, and Uralic. The languages of some native populations of Russia amaze international experts with their complexity. Some dialects have similar features, while […]

A History of Russian Holiday Cards (Pre-Revolution)

The custom of sending greeting cards can be traced back to the ancient Chinese, who exchanged messages of good will to celebrate the New Year, and to the early Egyptians, who conveyed their greetings on papyrus scrolls. It is believed that first Christmas card was created by an English artist named “Dobson” in 1794. The […]

The Russian Labor Market: Regulations, Common Practices, Vocabulary, and More

This resource is intended to serve as a map for the Russian labor market both in terms of official and unofficial labor practices and with general commentary on perspectives of these labor practices as taken from both the employee and employer. We have also tried to provide, wherever possible, commentary on Russian terminology and slang […]

Holidays in Russia: A Guide

This resource provides a list of those holidays of cultural importance in Russia. Dates, days off, and histories of the holidays are all included.   New Year / Новый Год December 31, 2018 – January 1, 2019 (days off: Dec 30, 2018 – Jan 8, 2019) Russians will work a half day on Saturday, Dec […]

Why do Russians Clap on Planes?

The Village is a Russian-language publication in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev that seeks to inform locals about their various cities, their upcoming events, changes, and history. The following are two interesting entries from a series of short articles geared to answer the “strangest questions about city life” in the cities covered by the publication. […]

A History of Sayings and Expressions about Moscow

Russian has many sayings and expressions that revolve around Moscow and places within or near Moscow. The most famous for foreigners is probably “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears,” but there are many others such as “to yell to the whole of Ivanovskaya” and examples that might not seem to refer to a specific place […]

Russian Greetings Through the Ages

The following information originally appeared as part of a larger article on Russkaya Semyorka, a Russian-language history and culture site. The information has been translated and adapted here by SRAS. According to one legend, the name “Slavs” comes from the verb “славить” (slavit’; to praise, to give a blessing). This seems unquestionable, actually, as nearly […]

Why Do Russians Shout «Горько!» (Bitter!) at Weddings?

The following information originally appeared as part of a longer article on The Village, a Russian-language lifestyle publication.  It has been adapted by SRAS and translated here by SRAS intern Mae Liou.   Gerda, a professional Russian wedding emcee: People often ask me about this, so for some time now I’ve been aware of several […]

7 Secrets of the Russian Alphabet

The history of the Russian language and its alphabet is long and fascinating. Here are a few anecdotes from that history. The following is taken from a list that has been published in many places on the Russian Internet. One version can be seen on Russian7.ru. It has been translated to English and revised by […]

Kvass! The Other Fermented Russian Drink

Квас (Kvass) is sometimes referred to as “bread drink” or even “bread cider” in English. We recommend just sticking with the word “квас,” though. Brewed from black or rye bread, the drink may come with a range of consistencies similar to those found in beer and a distinctly “bready” taste. The first recorded mention of […]

Olivier Salad: A Russian Holiday Tradition

Салат «Оливье» (Olivier Salad) is a salad for which the recipe can vary widely, but which is typically made from chopped vegetables and meat in a mayonnaise base. Invented in Moscow, the salad is now popular throughout the countries of the former Soviet Union and beyond. In places like Turkey, Iran, and Greece, it is […]

Herring Under A Fur Coat: A Hearty New Year’s Tradition

Potatoes, herring, beets, and mayonnaise come together to create the beloved селёдка под шубой (Herring under a Fur Coat), served at nearly every special occasion in the post-Soviet space. It was first seen in the early days of the Soviet Union. However, what is most unusual about the salad is its bright purple color, which […]

Pryanik: The Spice of Russian Desserts

Пряник (pryanik), commonly described as “Russian gingerbread” or “Russian spice cookies,” is a sweet bread or cookie flavored with spices and sometimes filled with jam, sweetened condensed milk, or caramelized milk. Spices used can include cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, and anise, but recipes can vary fairly widely and many Russian regions have specific пряник […]

Pickling Russian Style

The process of соление (pickling) is well-known in Russia, and any traveler visiting Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus will undoubtedly come across several traditional pickled dishes that seem strange and exotic. With a relatively short growing season, preserving food has always been of special importance in Russia, where you can easily find pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, […]

Vinegret: The Salad is in the Chopping

While most Westerners know vinaigrette as an oily dressing, often of the raspberry or balsamic variety, in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet bloc, the word has a very different meaning. In these countries, винегрет (vinegret) is itself a salad, composed traditionally of boiled, diced beets, potatoes, and carrots mixed with diced pickles, […]

Mors: When Life Gives You berries…

Морс (Mors) is a traditional Russian drink typically made of fresh berries, sugar, and water. It is drunk and enjoyed across the post-Soviet space. Most often морс is made by boiling berries or similar small, juicy fruits such as cranberry, lingonberry, wild strawberry, or red currant with a sweetener such as honey or sugar. Морс […]

Żurek: The Soup that Makes a Man as Strong as a Wall

(The Soup that Makes a Man as Strong as a Wall: from the Old Silesian saying “Ze żuru, chłop jak z muru” (Literally: from żur, a man is like he’s made from wall) Żurek is a sour soup made from fermented rye flour with sausages, potatoes, eggs, and spices. It is popular across Poland in […]

All About Shashlyk (BBQ from the Caucasus)

Shashlyk is considered to be one of the very first dishes humans invented and most likely hails from the place the first modern human likely appeared – the area covering Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and the Caucasus. Почему он так называется? The word “шашлык” was adopted into Russian in the 18th century. It may have come […]

The SRAS Guide to Fermented Milk

Russia and Eurasia offer what can seem to be a bewildering selection of dairy products in their transnational food cultures. An area of special note, and often one of the strangest to Westerners, is the seemingly never-ending assortment of fermented milk drinks in the Russian gastronomic repertoire. To cut down on the brow-furrowing and sometimes […]

Maslenitsa, Blin! The Food and Celebration

Они хранили в жизни мирной Привычки милой старины; У них на масленице жирной Водились русские блины. А.С. Пушкин In peaceful life they protected Sweet olden-time traditions; With them on fatty Maslenitsa Was always the Russian blin. A.S. Pushkin Russians revere both блины and Масленица as being “truly Russian” although, ironically, neither is without multiple counterparts […]

Korean Carrot Salad: A Simple Salad, Full of Flavor and History

Морковь по-корейски (also called корейская морковь/морковка) was a Soviet-era invention of the Корё-сарам (Koryo-Saram), ethnic Koreans living in the territory of the former Soviet Union. The salad was inspired by traditional Korean cuisine, and was shaped by the shortages and circumstances of life in the Soviet Union. It originated in Central Asia but became immensely […]

Halva: Ancient and Nutritious

Халва, the rich, crumbly dessert well-loved across many cultures, is so densely filling it almost manages to feel like a meal – and not an entirely unhealthy one at that. There are more than one hundred types of халва, which is generally ground and sweetened nuts and/or seeds. Its role as a staple dessert extends […]

Zupa Ogorkowa: Traditional Polish Pickle Soup

Polish pickle soup is similar to pickle-based soups that can be found across the Slavic world. In Russia, for instance, soups like solyanka and rassolnik are popular. Solyanka, however, prides itself on stuffing as much and as many kinds of meat into the soup as possible. Rassolnik is much more similar to Polish pickle soup […]

Adzhika: The Hot Relish of the Caucasus

Adzhika is a spicy sauce. It is sometimes a thick red or green paste and sometimes more of a salsa or ketchup-like substance. Generally, thicker versions will be hotter and often considered more authentic. Аджика (adzhika) is an aromatic and spicy sauce native to the Caucasus that is popular throughout Russia and the former USSR. […]

Kulebyaka: The Refined Pirog

Кулебяка (kulebyaka) is one of Russian cooking’s refined delicacies. It’s also somewhat of a mystery to many, who know of it only from the works of great Russian authors such as Chekhov and Gogol. Chekhov, in “The Siren,” makes the dish sound sensual: «Кулебяка должна быть аппетитная, бесстыдная, во всей своей наготе, чтоб соблазн был.» […]

Pączki domowe: Polish Fat Thursday Donuts

Pączki domowe (pronounced pOHNch-kee, the singular form being pączek) are pastries similar to donuts. They are considered traditionally Polish, although they are enjoyed across Europe, in many places in North America, and beyond. They are deep-fried and filled with confiture or other sweet and/or creamy fillings, and are usually topped with a sweet icing, glaze, […]

Kluski Śląskie: Bouncy Polish Potato Dumplings

Kluski śląskie (KLOO-skee SHLOWN-skee) are soft, circular-shaped, flattened dumplings made from mashed potatoes and potato flour that typically have an indent in the center. This indent is their distinctive physical characteristic, and acts like a sauce-holder. They are traditionally served with goose, pork roast, gravy, or stew, or with caramelized onions and/or bacon cracklings. They […]

Syrniki: Not Your Average Cheese Cake

Сырники (Syrniki) are cottage cheese griddle cakes, sometimes called “cheese fritters” in English. They are generally fried in vegetable oil to create crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside medallions of warm, creamy goodness. Drizzled with sour cream, condensed milk, and/or jam, and served for breakfast or dessert, сырники are particularly beloved in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Lithuania. Сырники […]

Kasha (Sochivo, Kutya): Russian Porridge

Early on those cold autumn and winter mornings, there is nothing quite like a steaming bowl of каша (kasha) to prepare for a long day ahead. In Russia, каша is porridge typically made by cooking гречка (buckwheat), овсянка (oatmeal), or рис (rice) with молоко (milk) or вода (water). Porridge is not the first thing that […]

Maslenitsa Through the Eyes of American Students, 2018

On February 17, squares, avenues and parks in every corner of Russia celebrated Maslenitsa, a traditional Russian holiday that marks the imminent end of winter with mountains of hot, delicious blini and revelry. Originally a pagan holiday celebrated as early as the 2nd century A.D., Maslenitsa has been somewhat folded into Orthodox Christian traditions and […]

New Year’s Celebrations in Irkutsk

One of the most amazing things I’ve done in Russia is to celebrate the New Year here. This is Russia’s main holiday. In Russia, Christmas (celebrated on Jan 7 rather than Dec 25) is a religious holiday without gifts and parties. The New Year is more like our Christmas and when the Russian version of […]

Unity Day in Irkutsk

Unity Day (День народного единства) is held on November 4 every year across Russia. It commemorates the uprising which kicked out the Polish occupying forces from the Kremlin in November of 1612 at the end of the Polish-Muscovite War. The holiday was recognized during Imperial times, but after the 1917 Revolution, the Soviets replaced the […]

In Memory of the Warsaw Uprising

Walking around Warsaw on a daily basis, I have not become a stranger to witnessing memorials or places where something important in history has occurred. Everywhere in Warsaw it seems to be a reminder of the dark past. The oppression started on September 1st, 1939 when the German Nazis invaded Poland. The population was separated […]

Masha’s Dacha – An Excursion in Russian Culture

This summer, the students enrolled with SRAS Moscow had the opportunity to visit the outskirts of the city and spend the day at a very generous Russian family’s dacha. A dacha is similar to a country house, and they are a hugely important part of Russian culture. Masha, our guide and the dacha’s owner, informed […]

Happy Russia Day from Moscow

С Днëм России! This holiday is a very exciting time not only for native Russians, but for visitors as well! This year, celebrations were particularly extensive in Moscow, with historical reconstructions and reenactments as well as cultural events and entertainment offered throughout the city. Russia Day is celebrated every year on June 12th, and marks […]

International Women’s Day Eve in Kyiv

Perhaps no one in the world takes the celebration of the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, as seriously as those in Kyiv. It makes sense that the day is especially heralded in Ukraine and Russia, as it was a popular Soviet holiday honoring women workers. In 1917, women textile workers in St. Petersburg went […]

Heavenly Hundred Mourners In Kyiv

Hundreds of people came to Kyiv’s Independence Square, or, in Ukrainian, Maidan Nazeleznosti for the third anniversary of the day snipers killed 100 protesters during the EuroMaidan Revolution, on February 18, 2017. The deceased are commonly known as the “Heavenly Hundred.” The date of thier death is now marked every year by mourners returning to […]

Моя Россия 13: История новогодней ёлки в России

The following is lesson 13 of the Моя Россия advanced Russian lesson series. Note that all bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang. Во многих странах мира рождественская ёлка — это традиционный атрибут празднования Рождества. Эта традиция возникла в […]

Моя Россия 7: Система здравоохранения в России

The following is lesson 7 of the Моя Россия advanced Russian lesson series. Note that all bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang. У всех нас периодически возникает необходимость ходить по врачам. Может быть, вы простыли и хотите получить больничный, может у нас […]

Моя Россия 6: Как стать преподавателем в России

The following is lesson 6 of the Моя Россия advanced Russian lesson series. Note that all bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang. Работать в российской школе может любой, кто получил высшее педагогическое образование, а также те, кто учился […]

Моя Россия 5: Русские любят выходные 2 – Активный отдых

The following is lesson 5 of the Моя Россия advanced Russian lesson series. Note that all bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang. Россияне, как и все остальные люди на планете, любят расслабляться. Отдыхать любят по-разному: кому-то нравится лежать […]

Моя Россия 4: Бедность в России

The following is lesson 4 of the Моя Россия advanced Russian lesson series. Note that all bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang. Каким вы представляете себе лицо бедности? Лично для меня это плачущая у кассы старушка, отдавшая последние деньги за […]

Моя Россия 3: Поехали в Санкт-Петербург, культурную столицу

The following is lesson 3 of the Моя Россия advanced Russian lesson series. Note that all bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang. Этим летом я ездила в Санкт-Петербург. Санкт-Петербург – это второй по численности населения и значению город […]

Моя Россия 2: Русские любят выходные

The following is lesson 2 of the Моя Россия advanced Russian lesson series. Note that all bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang. Русские люди очень любят праздники. Наверное, они их любят даже больше, чем жители каких-либо иных страна. Мало того, […]

Моя Россия 1: Гости и приезжающиe

The following is lesson 1 of the Моя Россия advanced Russian lesson series. Note that all bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang. Меня зовут Роксана. Мне 23 года, и уже много лет я живу в Москве. Большую часть […]

Victory Day in Vladivostok

Behind New Year’s, May 9th is the largest holiday in Russia. Victory Day celebrates the Soviet victory in World War II over the German Reich. This year marked 71 years since hostilities ceased in that war, but it seems that time has done little to weaken the remembrance of that great event. The main event […]

Milk Bars: Warsaw’s Proletarian Food Culture

This is a quick introduction to both Warsaw’s milk bars, which are important cultural institutions as well as great places to eat, and to the Polish language needed to order in them. While English-speaking eating establishments can be found, they will typically be more expensive and less of an important local experience than a Milk […]

How Russian Children Learn Russian

Mark Lowry completed his undergraduate senior research projects for Stetson University in Russia with the assistance of SRAS during the summer of 2009. Contact SRAS for more information on how we can help scholars with visas, housing, insurance, and other on-the-ground support in Russia. SRAS: You are currently majoring in Russian Studies and Psychology at Stetson University – what […]

A History of Russian Holiday Ornaments

Ghosts of Holidays Past: Interview with Kim Balaschak by Josh Wilson The expat community in Moscow functions much like a smaller town in the US, where the degrees of separation between individuals rarely total more than two. So it was that my email address had crossed Kim Balaschak’s computer (through a mutual Russian acquaintance) and […]

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