Not every country in the world thinks highly of the importance of a cloakroom. To some, it is merely a place to turn their coats in before going into a building. But, to others, cloakroom has way more terms than just a storage room; it is as important as pillars to a nation. The word cloak is derived from cloque, a French word, which means traveling cloak or the coat people wear when they are outdoor. From the term itself we can already see that a cloak is not meant to be worn in a building, and so there it goes the cloakroom for all the cloaks to be stored in before one enters the establishment.
There are other meanings to the word cloakroom, actually. In the United Kingdom, it can also mean lavatory. While to The United States Congress it means a room where the congressmen could have a break, socialize, have a nap, and meet outside of the formal meetings without leaving the congress building. In Russia, though, a cloakroom is a cloakroom but it contains something bigger than just coats and boots. Let’s take a look at these 3 important meanings of cloakroom for Russian people:
1. A Noble Heritage
In Russia, a cloakroom is known as Garderobe, a French word that means wardrobe. The word appeared for the first time in the Russian dictionary in 1780. It was, at that time, an honor to the fashion world since fashion was something considered prohibited during the Soviet Union era. The Garderobe term itself is quite historic since it was first used in the medieval time to name a room in a castle where the valuable items were stored in.
Back to the history of Russian cloakroom, it was in 1897 when the modern theatre in Russia started to take place and people there took the matter seriously. At that time they would dress magnificently to attend the play, wearing furs, diamonds and the most luxurious clothing. Before entering the theatre they all had to take off their outer clothes, no exceptions. To attend and watch a play meant to celebrate the culture and honor the luxurious interior of the theatre and what happened on the stage. This value is preserved until today where having a cloakroom in an establishment means to carry on the noble heritage and honor the building that accommodates it.
2. Etiquette of the Nation
You can probably say that Russia is quite a laid back country when it comes to rules of conduct. But, amazingly, it is quite strict about people not taking off their coats indoor. That manner is unacceptable and considered rude. Another name for cloakroom is coat check, it is an attended room where people get tickets or receipts with numbers corresponding to the one attached to their coats and other belongings to avoid them getting mixed up. In Russia, the attendants of coat checks are almost always babushkas or old women – usually around retirement age – who have seen Russia for decades from the time when it was still under the Soviet Union.
There is a reason why coat checks hire babushkas; they are strict and will stand their ground. They won’t take no for an answer or give exceptions. Almost all places in Russia have a cloakroom in their premises, whether it’s a school, restaurant, library, theater, hotel, and almost all big public buildings. The coat checks in these places work more than just a room where visitors would turn in their outer clothes but also a sieve. The babushkas who guard the rooms cannot be challenged; like in Russian schools, the cloakrooms attendants are considered the second most important people after the headmasters. They don’t just keep the students’ belongings safe but also watch the entrance, shout for orders when the kids start to run in the alley or fight; they keep things right like how they were taught in the old days. Now you see why a cloakroom in Russia can help to keep the good manners of the nation up and alive. The babushkas will make sure nobody wears their coats indoor as a symbol of respect, something young people are starting to forget.
3. An Important Social Function
Because Russia takes this cloakroom matter seriously, they have a Coat Check Society where all the trained attendants gather under. This society promises the best and most professional workers to take care and handle the rooms where they are hired in. The customers of this society are noble and great Russian institutions like The Lenin Library and The Tretyakov Gallery. Some of the best hotels in Moscow also use the service of the Coat Check Society and the babushkas who work there are very tough, aggressive and professional. They will not deal with flammable things, sharp instruments, spoiled items, explosives, poison, or waste. Another thing they will definitely say no to is a coat with no loop at the back of it. Customers are scared of them more than they scared of the security guards.
These workers from the Coat Check Society, however, have their own salary standard – twice as much as the independent workers, and a lot of institutions can’t afford to use their services anymore and choose to just go the independent way. With the quality sure comes the price. Only fast food restaurants and movie houses do dare enough to let go of the custom completely.
Is cloakroom a common thing in your country? Have you ever turned your coat in one before going into a building or never in your life? If the answers are no, then this article about 3 important meanings of cloakroom for Russian people surely has given you an interesting insight about a fact of the nation. You can say that they do love cloakrooms.