Even Numbers and Russian Culture: The Do’s and Don’ts

Culture, tradition, and of course superstition definitely play a great role in shaping Russians’ daily life. It is no surprise that a 2015 research by Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) found that 50% of Russians conform their behaviour according to the superstitions they are taught, raised with, and believe in.

From flower gifting etiquette, the meanings of different flowers, to wedding traditions are neatly elaborated in the culture. Some other superstitions also include the meanings of numbers and the significance of bread in Russian tradition. This time, we are going to tell you another popular Russian superstitions that involve numbers.

Don’t offend your date by bringing even numbers of flowers

Gentlemen, here is a heads up if you are dating or planning to date Russian ladies. Famous for highly respecting their cultures, Russian women may find it offensive and an omen of bad luck if you bestow them with even numbers of flowers. But why so?

Most western countries are used to giving flowers in even amount. In contrary, even numbers in Russian tradition are highly associated with bad luck, grieving, and death. That is why, during happy and joyful occasions, people bring and gift odd numbers of flowers. While flowers in even numbers are usually brought to funerals and memorial services in order to honour the dead.

Back in the days …

War victims in Russia were given two flowers. It was widely believed that one flower was given to honour the deceased, while the other one was given to honour God. This might be the earliest practice of giving flowers in even number only for dead people. The custom is still practiced until today. One of the occasion we can see people laying out even numbers of flowers is during Russia’s Victory Day, commemorated every May 9th. During the Victory Day, Russians will go to war memorial sites and leave flowers in even numbers there. The practice symbolises the nation wide mourning and remembrance towards the fallen soldiers that fought tooth and nail for the nation.

Only four petals are enough

We have actually talked about this one fact in our previous post about the meanings of flowers in Russian culture. Allow us to remind you that most lilacs only have four petals. Because of this, lilac with five or six petals are highly uncommon. The extra petals are then considered as bad luck. To avoid getting bad luck, Russians usually pick off the extra petals and bite them, leaving only even number of petals (which is four in case you are wondering) left on the stem.

Last but not least, remember to make a wish when you find between two people with the same names

Some names are more popular than others in Russia, making it a high chance to meet two or more people with the same names in the same occasion. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, quickly but quietly make a wish. Russians believe that when you are between two people, you should make a wish and it will come true. However, do not tell anyone or speak about your wish or it will not come true.

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