Russian Customs and Traditions

Author: waytorussia (on 21 Sep 2022)
There are certain peculiarities that only Russians have and it's useful to know them. Otherwise you risk losing friends, getting shot, or having an argument.

Below we tried to list some common traits of the Russian character and list some things that Russians love and hate. If you are lucky enough to meet a person whose character incorporates all of the items from the list below, we can assure you that this person possesses the pure Russian spirit and should be treated with high respect. If you decide to become a Russian, you can use the list below as guidelines.

We are a free nation. Here we despise all the rules. It’s an honor for our drivers to move on the red light or to bother other drivers and scorn pedestrians.

• We believe in the crudes and the Cosmos. It's either utopia or bare knuckles, raw materials or highly sophisticated systems. Those who gave themselves up to the middle class dreams are the lost generation.

Andrei Molodkin's Human Rights work -

It’s cool to do nothing and to just lie on the sofa thinking about how great you are. Really, Russia is such an amazing country and we have given the world so much, that we can rest a bit.


If you're invited for a meal, expect that the hosts will feed you until you feel completely full and not capable of moving. If you think that's dangerous for your health, or you're on a diet, we advise you to emulate satiety, otherwise you will end up badly.

Gremyachinsk village at Baikal Lake - right before we got invited for a meal

• We value generousity. We can give you the last piece of bread we have if we believe you really need it. And we expect the same in return.
• We are not rational, we are irrational. Do not try to reason with us, because it will not work. We believe in chaos, serendipity, and adaptation. Our space missions are baptised by Russian Orthodox Church and even though we are very good in maths, we are certain that to do the impossible you need to believe in it, even if against all the odds...


Some of us are naturally indifferent; we don’t care too much about dirt on the streets, saving money, the war in Tchechnya, breaking the rules, risking without particular reason, drinking too much...

... and most of us are very proud. Don't talk to us about our vices, we won't listen anyway. And don't dare to critisize the way our country is -- Russia is the best place and we will prove it to the whole world very soon.

We are a volatile mix – Western conscious and Asian sunconscious – you see, for hundreds of years Russia has been mixed, populations have been moved thousands of kilometers around, so we influenced each other to the extent that it does not even make sense. Still, in all that mess we find a unique sense of aesthetics, which is unified by our stregth, heritage and belief in the supernatural powers of Cosmos.

Russian fashion designer Gosha Rubchinsky's lookbook

Some of us are quite emotional, but somehow it’s all kept inside most of the time. We may seem a bit cold and too much to ourselves at first, but when you get to know us better, we're like a volcanoe.

Trans-Siberian train people - photo by Paul Schoen -
• We love trends – even though we're not the global trend-setters, we take them to the extremes. Give us the latest Dazed & Confused and we'll show you how to turn avant-garde into mainstream and even make good money on it. By the way, same goes for technology and the internet. We get it later, but we make it better :)
Solyanka Club by Zamikalka1@LookAtMe
We are not politically correct, we take pleasure in talking our opinions out loud and we will not use fancy words to conceal our real feelings.

We don't feel easy about talking to strangers on the street, but if you start conversation saying that you're from another country or ask for some help, there's a good chance we will be very open, because we are naturally curious about foreigners.

Some of us think that foreigners are bloody rich; so if we spot a foreigner, we try to make some money on him, because we still have this communist idea that everybody should be equal.

Women and old women are very respected here. It’s considered polite if while being in the metro and seeing a woman or an old woman coming in and there’re no free seats, man offers her his seat.

Beware of the babushkas (old women). They are active, pushy and very proud of themselves, so if you do something not the way they think you should’ve done, better disappear.

When you are invited to the party bring something with you - beer is usually accepted with pleasure.

If you invited a girl or a woman somewhere be prepared to pay for her everywhere. If you invited a man, he’ll pay for himself, and there's a good chance he'll pay for you as well without telling you about it.

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Men should be strong and assertive and women should be smart and beautiful. That's just one of our stereotypes.

No, Russians are not racists. We were grown up in the world, where everybody is equal and where the friendship of nations is an important part of our agenda. If you notice one of us staring occasionally at a black person, it's just because we are curious -- there's not many black people in Russia... The only word of warning is about older people, who are sometimes too much patriotic, so be careful: don't offend their feelings.

Yes, we love vodka, but we're not alcoholics. Despite what some people think, Russians are not drunkards, they just have a special resistance to alchohol, that's why they can drink so much. And we actually get our strength from it and it warms us during the cold winters. By the way, if you drink with us, you'll have to drink as much as we do, or we will be offended.

Russians are weird. We think that a sudden change from communism to capitalism has something to do with it, but this topic deserves a more thorough exploration. The only smart explanation that can be proposed here is that some of us jumped too deep into capitalist world, while some stayed too far behind.

Russians are hooligans. It's not because we're bad - we just like everything extraordinary. But too often we don't express this feeling enough, so when it comes out, it's like a volcanoe. That's why you hear our tourists singing folk songs at 3am and that's why we make a revolution every 80 years.

We believe in magnetism. The thing is, that every so often the sun sends some electro-magnetic signals and this affects the whole course of events on the earth, including our mood and feelings. So, if you see two housewives discussing how bad their day went because of the electro-magnetic storm that happened in the afternoon - don't think they are adepts of some sort of new age philosophy, it's completely normal here.

Children ultraviolet light Russia
Yes, we are superstitious. And if you want to shake our
hand, you can never ever do it through the door: you have to come in, otherwise we will quarrel. If you come back to your house just after you left - look at the mirror, it's for your own good. If you're sitting at the corner of the table, you won't be married for 7 years. If a fork falls, a woman is going to come, if a knife falls, a man will certainly appear.

Most of us know a few words in English, but we are too shy to speak - no practice, you see... However, you will be surprised at how many things are written in English on the streets: it is used to show a shop or a cafe, to advertise a new product, and there's a lot of foreign goods. Also, almost more than a half of Russian products have their ingredients listed in English.
Russians learn English at school, and many people can understand the basics, but are shy to speak to a stranger. We estimate about every one out of five Moscovitans can speak English well enough, and there's a higher chance among younger people.

We like all things fancy. But our understanding of it is very original. You will often see men in suits or tucked-in shirts and office trousers (even in clubs on Friday night), while women prefer noticeable and sexy outfits. The colors for men are usually dark or grey, while women like light and white colors. This is a generalization and of course you'll see a lot of different people and outfits.

Russian Girls in a village
A club is not a place to party - it's the place for the chosen ones.
If you want to visit clubs, they have this thing called "dress code" where you might not be allowed because you wear Nike sneakers, old khakis or a fleece coat. However, the rules are more lax for foreigners, so if unsure about your appearance just speak English while you're passing the club's entrance, and you're guaranteed to get in.

We express what we feel, but we're not extrovert. We shout in public and we kiss in public. It's acceptable to show affection in public (look at how many kissing couples there are on the long escalators in Moscow metro!) but extrovert behaviour may be resisted. You won't see a lot of people sitting in public places with their legs stretched or crossed  (in an American way) and Russians do not gesticulate much when they are talking.

Most Russians feel a bit strange about gays and lesbians, but prefer not to talk or express their feelings about it. There is however, quite a large gay & lesbian community in Moscow and St. Petersburg and specialized websites have thousands and thousands of profiles featuring gorgeous queer men and women.

Outside of PifPaf club St. Petersburg

Smoking is a national sport, but many people understand it's not good for health and will always agree to turn off their cigarette if it bothers you.
Many people have a positive attitude towards healthy lifestyle and have a daily morning exercise routine or run in the park.

We believe that if you are a vegeterian, chances are you are one of those Hare Krishna guys or you have problems with digestion. (However, we should say that the creators of this site were vegetarian for two years... until we traveled to Siberia and were presented with the choice of either making a good travel guide or not eating the meat that was offered).


What else is uniquely Russian? Leave your comments and suggestions below!




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