The Differences between Russian and Soviet Culture

Not every school around the globe has the history of Russia in its curriculum. To them who have only recently wanted to learn about the country, there might be some questions including “did Russia once change its name to Soviet Union?” and “was Soviet Union the same as Russia?” Well, the answers to both questions are: NO.

This is what you need to know before we go on and talk about the culture; Russia is a very old country with a very long history that started in 862 when the Rus’ state was established. In 1917, Russia was down because the people stood up against the autocratic system of the government and this revolution led to the seizure of power by the communist which then shoved Russia under the rug of the Soviet Union together with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. So, it is clear that the main difference between the two is: Russia is a country, while the Soviet Union was a political state with many republics under it – including Russia. But how strong was the influence of the Soviet Union that it could change the culture of a country as old as Russia? We are about to get into that part.

The Authentic Russian Culture

Today, Russia covers 17,098,242 square kilometers part of the planet Earth and becomes the home to around 190 ethnic groups. The country is stretched across the whole of northern Asia and the majority of Eastern Europe. You can imagine how rich and diverse the culture of Russia is only from the brief facts we have just pointed out. Russian culture has grown a long way from the pagan beliefs and a deep root that influences the culture of the world considerably. Russia is famous for its literature, folk dances, philosophy, traditional folk music, ballet, architecture, painting, and material culture. Russia ranks seventh in the world’s cultural heritage.

Here are some of the popular Russian traditional items the world knows quite well:

1. Russian Tea Culture

Not only in China, Japan, or Korea one can find the solemn tea culture because Russia has it too. The long history and tradition behind this culture makes drinking tea in the country more than just sipping tea but also a social activity. Traditionally, the water for Russian tea is prepared in a samovar – a metal container that can be heated. Today, the Russian tea-set together with the samovar are among the most popular souvenirs from the country.

2. Bolshoi Ballet

Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi Ballet Company is among the world’s elite and oldest ballet companies that are globally famous. Russia is known to be the home of some of the most talented dancers with original performances that people around the world put on their must-see things when they visit Russia.

3. Russian Winter Festival

Because the country has a relatively long winter, the festival during this time of the year becomes very popular not only among Russians but also internationally. There are a lot of things to enjoy and see including going to the Christmas Village where a lot of legendary traditional folk crafts including the Matryoshka dolls and winter clothes like valenki – the winter boots and ushanka – the fur hat.


4. Special Days and Celebrations

In Russia, Christmas is not widely or publicly observed. Russians are always more excited about the New Year’s instead. Men don’t really give chocolates and flowers to women on the Valentine’s Day because Women’s Day is far more important in Russia. At the end of winter, Russia celebrates the Maslenitsa Week to welcome spring and the rebirth of the sun by feasting on blini.

There are a lot more things we can discuss about the amazing Russian culture that they won’t fit in this one article, so we will get down to the core of it soon enough after we talk about…

The Soviet Union Culture

Because the Soviet Union or United Socialist Soviet Republics (U.S.S.R.) was actually a political state and not a country, its culture was very much contributed by the countries it governed. The Soviet Union only made necessary adjustments and censorships to make sure the culture didn’t become a threat to the regime. The majority of the Soviet Union culture involved propaganda inserted in printed materials, movies, even porcelain!

The Soviet Union era was also the harsh time for the religions and beliefs in Russia because the regime forbade people to turn into anything else but the government. They destroyed worshipping places or turned them into offices or storage buildings. Bourgeois was also something the Soviet Union banned because it was against the communism. It made the Russians had to be very careful about the way they dressed, consumed, and lived in general. But the limitations also brought a lot of cultural things that leave footprints in the Russian modern-day post-Soviet time.


The Differences

After we talked about the two cultures, now is time to compare the two:

  • Russian culture has a very long history and deep root that began since the establishment of the country in the 862, while the Soviet culture had only started to form in the 1922.
  • Russian culture is authentic, classic, and influenced by elements like pagan, tsarism, the neighboring regions, Orthodox Church, and more. The Soviet culture was a gathered contribution from the cultures of republics it governed.
  • Russian culture is invented and it offers personal freedom – except if limited by one’s belief or religion, while the Soviet culture was an adjustment of the cultures that were already there to make sure they didn’t become hostile to the regime.
  • Russian culture ranks seventh in the world’s cultural heritage, while the Soviet culture sprouted modernism in the country – in fashion, music, cinema, and culinary.

Now that you know the differences between Russian and Soviet culture; it is always an interesting topic to look into, because it tells a lot about a country’s identity, history, and elements that shape it. Culture is one of the main reasons why people want to travel because it enriches the mind and soul.

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