If you have seen enough movies, you might be familiar with how Russians are typically pictured in them; tough, cold, up to no humors and serious. Many times they are given roles as spies or villains. But is it true that in reality Russians are always so serious? Why are they identified with such character?
Russia is not only a home for 144.5 million people, but also world literature, talented classical composers and, of course, Russian ballet. Russian culture has an incredibly rich history and strong traditions. This, however, does not reduce the number of stereotypes about Russians. Vodka, bears walking in the streets and other “serious statements” about Russia which are not always true. Here are some stereotypes and whether each of them is true or just a myth.
1. Russians drink a lot – True
Many stereotypes about Russians really revolve around vodka. It may seem that the Russians fall asleep and wake up with a bottle. Rumor has it that Russians drink the most alcohol. On average, people consume 15.1 pure alcohols per year in the country; more than 50% of this volume is strong alcoholic drinks. Russia even celebrates the birthday of vodka every January 31.
2. Russians are immune to cold – A myth
People often think that the temperature in Russia never rises above 0 degrees; supposedly the Russians are somehow arranged differently and never feel the cold. The truth is that in some regions of Russia, winter is long and cold. In Russia, which is huge in size, the climate is mostly continental and sharply continental. And the temperature can be quite extreme – from 45⁰C in Kalmykia in the summer to a fatal -64⁰C in Oymyakon in the winter. But Russians are biologically constructed in the same way as other people.
3. Russians drink tea from a saucer – True
Tea in Russia is considered a de facto national drink, and the average Russian drinks three cups of tea every day. Russians prefer mostly black tea, while other types are left for guests. At the same time, tea drinking is considered an excellent occasion to get together. Drinking tea from a saucer is traditional for Russia, as well as for China and England, although with each new generation this tradition is a thing of the past. This tradition is merely to make the tea cool faster since it is usually served boiling hot.
4. Russians are very superstitious – True
Most Russian superstitions have long become a habit. For example, you can’t say hello in the doorway. To clean empty bottles from the table is also a common practice in Russia to protect against misfortune. In order not to jinx something, the Russians knock on the tree, spit three times over their left shoulder, or do both. An unmarried girl should not be sitting on the corner of the table – otherwise she will never get married!
5. Russians are unfriendly – A myth
It seems that we are getting closer to the most popular stereotype of Russians, because it even has its own name – “Russian smile”. Russian does not smile at strangers, but only frown and suspiciously look at them. In Russian culture, it is considered impolite to express emotions in front of strangers. Not to beat around the bush, but to go straight to the point of the conversation – on the contrary, is polite. Russians do not like small talk and exchange of pleasantries; they will never discuss the weather to diversify the conversation. However, as soon as you get to know the Russians close enough, you will find that they are sincere, patient and very friendly people.
Understanding Russians personally
There is a term called “Russian soul” that has existed for such a long time, which is believed to be the something that lives in each and every real and genuine Russian. However, foreigners may not understand the secret of the Russian soul, because in order to feel it, one must be born Russian. People, who are not Russian, need to, at least, grow in Russian to grasp what having the soul feels like. Russians can get easily misunderstood because of their unique traits.
The Russian national character has evolved over the centuries under the influence of several factors such as the harsh climate of Northern Eurasia with cold winters and a pronounced change of seasons, the vast expanses of Russia, the multi-ethnic nature of the state, the need to defend long external borders. A significant role in the formation of a national character was played by Orthodoxy – the most widespread religion and the basis of worldview for centuries.
The main features of the Russian character include the breadth of the soul, perseverance, compassion, humility, the desire for justice, community, ability to exploit, and the ability not to give up. Russians often experience emotional ups and downs (this is facilitated by a change of seasons), and although they may experience difficulties in terms of regular rhythmic work, they are sometimes capable of heroic work. Russians are good at finding common ground with representatives of other nations.
In general, the Russians are not so different from other nations and are not a “black sheep”. All peoples have their own characteristics, and Russians are no exception. However, as in many other multinational states, in Russia they no longer talk about the nature of the Russians themselves as a nationality by blood, but about the prevailing culture of the country, of which representatives of many other nationalities have long become a part.
All of the things mentioned above are probably the points that the foreigners see from the outside that get them the impression that Russians are always serious which then become the main trait identified with them. But now that you know the truth, it is always good to get close and personal with people from any places in the world to find out the real characters of their humans.