Myths about Russia

As with any country, there are many myths about Russia. Bears are walking the streets and people have smoking nuclear reactors as centerpieces in their apartments. The thing about nuclear reactors is of course an exaggeration. But we can't say the same about bears. Which stories about Russians are true, and which are false? Let's try to sort it out.

Myth: Russians drink a lot

Consumption of alcohol per capita in Russia is less than in some countries of Western Europe. Working residents of large cities drink no more than the British, Czechs and Germans. Moreover, a healthy lifestyle has become increasingly popular among young people in recent years: adolescents completely abstain from alcohol and tobacco, and go in for sports. The state supports this trend and takes steps to limit the turnover of alcohol products: it's prohibited to sell alcohol after 22:00, the minimum cost regularly increases. Young people can't buy alcohol without a passport. Since recently, it's prohibited to smoke in public places, such as restaurants, clubs and other entertainment establishments.

Myth: Russians are sullen and harsh people

Any foreigner who gets in the Moscow metro during the morning rush hour will be convinced of this statement once and for all. But if we don't take the extremes, everything is much rosier. In Russia, it's really not customary to walk around the streets with a smile on your face, but only because the popular saying goes: Laugh without reason is the sign of stupidity.  In the company of friends and relatives, a Russian person discards the sternness and really relaxes and rests. Generally, hiding emotions is a part of Russian mentality. It's not accepted to loudly talk in public places or to address passers-by on trifles. Therefore, anyone who violates the established order, is perceived with a little bit of suspicion, and foreigners start to think that Russians are inhospitable people, although this is only a tradition of upbringing. If you get to communicate with a Russian in a relaxed atmosphere, you'll be surprised to learn that this is an open, friendly and cheerful person. That's the mystery of a Russian soul for you!

If you get to communicate with a Russian in a relaxed atmosphere, you'll be surprised to learn that this is an open, friendly and cheerful person

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Myth about clothes and appearance

It is believed that Russian girls pay a lot of attention to their appearance and always prefer beauty to convenience when it comes to clothes. They can't imagine their life without jewelry and make-up and wear high heels even when it's freezing cold. Perhaps, an average Russian woman really dresses up more than European or Asian ladies. But the times of wearing only high heels and showing off brands are gone: today, residents of large cities prefer a neat, comfortable style without obvious overdressing. The most popular clothes among Russian women are skinny jeans and flat shoes or sneakers. Women of the older generation choose loose trousers or dresses, pairing them with moccasins.

Average Russian woman really dresses up more than European or Asian ladies. But the times of wearing only high heels and showing off brands are gone

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There is an opposite myth when it comes to Russian men - they absolutely don't know how to dress. Russia has never really been the capital of men's fashion, and concern for appearance was considered a woman's prerogative. Nevertheless, no Russian man will allow himself to appear in public in untidy clothes or dirty shoes. By the way, there are way more fashion lovers among the young generation: hipster culture is just as popular in Russia as it is in the rest of the world. And yes, no one has been wearing ushankas for a long time.

Myth about weather: Russia has two winters, the white one and the green one

In the European part of the country, the temperature from June to August stays within comfortable 23-25 °C. This is even higher than average summer temperature, for example, in the British Isles or in some states of North America. Sometimes the weather surprises, and the air warms up to +35 or even +40 °C in summer, which negatively affects residents of large cities.

Let's not forget that Russia is located in several climatic zones, and each one has its own temperature characteristics. Temperatures reach -56 °C in Siberia and beyond the Arctic Circle in winter, which in itself horrifies any foreigner. But local residents adapted to severe weather conditions and feel quite comfortable. At the same time, in the southern regions of Russia, the cities of the Black Sea coast for example, the climate is subtropical, and palm trees grow on the streets. What "green winter"? Some people never even saw snow!

Russia is located in several climatic zones, and each one has its own temperature characteristics. Some residents of the southern regions have never seen snow!

Myth about culture and leisure

Russian culture is famous all over the world by its writers, artists, musicians. There are many cultural sites in Moscow and St. Petersburg recognized as gems of world heritage. There is an opinion among foreigners that Russians go to the Bolshoi Theater every weekend, are fans of ballet and freely quote Pushkin during feasts. In fact, residents of capitals visit theaters as often as the Austrians visit opera. This doesn't mean that the native classics aren't valued, people are just used to spending their time in more "down to earth" ways. But the opinion that Russians are the most reading nation in the world is true. Literally everyone on the subway has a book, and many prefer reading to watching TV at home.

There are also various rumors about Russian national culture. It's just unthinkable if a Russian can't play the balalaika, never held a button accordion and doesn't use every opportunity to dance kozachok! And if they also don't know a single chastushka, something is definitely shady. Of course, the Russians sing chastushki and play the accordions. But this is done for the most part by the people who live in villages, where folk traditions are still strong, unlike the city.

Myth: bear walk the streets in Russia

What can we say, things happen. You can really meet a bear in small towns of Siberia and the Far East. Animals appear on the outskirts to find food in garbage cans. Sometimes they even go out onto the highway, provoking accidents. Local residents create anti-bear patrols engaged in shooting and catching dangerous predators in order to solve the problem. As for other areas of the country and major cities like Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan or Sochi, the probability of meeting a bear on the street there is almost zero.

Myth: nesting doll is an authentic Russian souvenir

In fact, the funny toy, a doll with several smaller dolls in it, was invented in Japan. The local "matryoshka" depicted Fukuruma, the god of learning and wisdom. The Japanese toy came to Russia at the end of the 19th century, and everyone was so fond of it that Russian masters decided to rethink it in their own way. So there was a painted folding doll of a red-cheeked girl in a sarafan and a headscarf. The origin of the name "matryoshka" remains mysterious. Some say it's formed from the beloved name Masha, or Manya. Others argue that this is the form of the name Matryona, popular in Russia at the time. Anyway, it turned out to be a very funny souvenir, traditionally Russian, but with oriental roots.

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