Diaries Magazine

The Russian Dos and Don'ts

Posted on the 12 June 2012 by Janedoemartini @janedoemartini
 Ten Things Never to Say or Do in RussiaSometimes, knowing what NOT to do is even more important if you want to fit in or at least produce a good impression. Read on to find out about ten Russian social taboos.
1. Don't come to visit empty-handedIf you're invited over for dinner, or just for a visit, don't come to a Russian house with nothing. What you bring doesn't really matter — a box of chocolates, flowers, or a small toy for a child. Russian hosts prepare for company by cooking their best dishes and buying delicacies that they normally wouldn't for themselves. If, after all this effort, a guest shows up without even a flower, Russians believe he doesn't care.JDM; PREACH and COSIGN!!!!! I think it’s something I picked up after my grandma because she ALWAYS brought something for someone when visiting their house. Now I can’t visit someone’s house/event without bringing some goodies on a plate (thank God for refrigerated cookie dough too)
The Russian Dos and Don'ts2. Don't leave your shoes on in someone's homeRussian apartments are covered in rugs. Often, they're expensive Persian rugs with intricate designs, which aren't cleaned as easily as traditional American carpeting. Besides, Russians walk a lot through dusty streets, instead of just stepping from the car directly into the home. For these reasons, and also because this tradition has gone on for centuries, Russians take off their street shoes when they enter private residencies. The host usually offers a pair of tapochki (tah-puhch-kee; slippers); if you go to a party, women usually bring a pair of nice shoes to wear inside. And again, if you fail to take your shoes off, nobody will say anything. But sneak a peek: Are you the only person wearing your snow-covered boots at the dinner table?JDM: Cosign again. I cannot fathom the fact of wearing my combat boots on someone else’s floor. That’s just nasty.
3. Don't joke about the parentsRussians aren't politically correct. Go ahead and tell an anyekdot (uh-neek-doht; joke) based on ethnicity, appearance, or gender stereotypes; just steer clear of jokes about somebody's mother or father. You won't be understood.JDM: Or you’ll just be either given the shank eye, or if it’s someone whose a member of the Russian mob you’re dead.
4. Don't toast with "Na Zdorov'ye!"People who don't speak Russian usually think that they know one Russian phrase: a toast, Na Zdorov'ye! Little do they know that Na Zdorov'ye! (nuh zdah-rohv'-ee; for health) is what Russians say when somebody thanks them for a meal. In Polish, indeed, Na Zdorov'ye! or something close to it, is a traditional toast. Russians, on the other hand, like to make up something long and complex, such as, Za druzhbu myezhdu narodami! (zah droozh-boo myezh-doo nuh-roh-duh-mee; To friendship between nations!) If you want a more generic Russian toast, go with Za Vas! (zuh vahs; To you!)JDM: We do Zivilje…not too much of a difference….but regardless, the toast is always said before some vodka
5.Don't take the last shirtA Russian saying, otdat' poslyednyuyu rubashku (aht-daht' pahs-lyed-nyu-yu roo-bahsh-koo; to give away one's last shirt), makes the point that you have to be giving, no matter what the expense for yourself. In Russia, offering guests whatever they want is considered polite. Those wants don't just include food or accommodations; old-school Russians offer you whatever possessions you comment on, like a picture on the wall, a vase, or a sweater.Now, being offered something doesn't necessarily mean you should take it. Russians aren't offering something because they want to get rid of it; they're offering because they want to do something nice for you. So, unless you feel that plundering their home is a good idea, don't just take things offered to you and leave. Refuse first, and do so a couple of times, because your hosts will insist. And only accept the gift if you really want this special something, but then return the favor and give your hosts something nice, as well.JDM: This is also pertains to any Balkan that’s cooking food. If you don’t take it, you will get the longest lecture on how you don’t eat enough and depending on the Balkan individual, they’ll serve it to you anyways regardless of protest.  

The Russian Dos and Don'ts

Gorgeous and classy!

6.Don't underdress Russians dress up on more occasions than Americans do. Even to go for a casual walk, a Russian woman may wear high heels and a nice dress. A hardcore feminist may say women do this because they're victimized and oppressed. But Russian women themselves explain it this way, "We only live once; I want to look and feel my best."On some occasions, all foreigners, regardless of gender, run the risk of being the most underdressed person in the room. These occasions include dinner parties and trips to the theater. Going to a restaurant is also considered a festive occasion, and you don't want to show up in your jeans and T-shirt, no matter how informal you think the restaurant may be. In any case, checking on the dress code before going out somewhere is a good idea.JDM: I guess this means I should bust out my nice Juicy Couture purse and black dress when I visit Moscow one day. Heels? I’ll stick with any kind of flat shoes. I don’t know how the Russians will perceive it if they see an American girl tripping on her heels and walking like Godzilla.
7. Don't go dutchHere's where Russians differ strikingly from Western Europeans. They don't go Dutch. So, if you ask a lady out, don't expect her to pay for herself, not at a restaurant or anywhere else. You can, of course, suggest that she pay, but that usually rules out the possibility of seeing her again. She may not even have money on her. Unless they expect to run into a maniac and have to escape through the back exit, Russian women wouldn't think of bringing money when going out with a man.JDM: I like the way Russian women think and have no further arguments on this subject.
8.Don't let a woman carry something heavyThis rule may make politically correct people cringe, but Russians believe that a man is physically stronger than a woman. Therefore, they believe a man who watches a woman carry something heavy without helping her is impolite.JDM: Same answer as #7.
The Russian Dos and Don'ts9. Don't overlook the elderly on public transportationWhen Russians come to America and ride public transportation, they're very confused to see young people sitting when an elderly person is standing nearby. They don't understand that in America, an elderly person may be offended when offered a seat. In Russia, if you don't offer the elderly and pregnant women a seat on a bus, the entire bus looks at you as if you're a criminal. Women, even (or especially) young ones, are also offered seats on public transportation. But that's optional. Getting up and offering a seat to an elderly person, on the other hand, is a must.JDM: Isn’t this just global common sense?
10. Don't burp in publicBodily functions are considered extremely impolite in public, even if the sound is especially long and expressive, and the author is proud of it. Moreover, if the incident happens (we're all human), don't apologize. By apologizing, you acknowledge your authorship, and attract more attention to the fact. Meanwhile, Russians, terrified by what just happened, pretend they didn't notice, or silently blame it on the dog. Obviously, these people are in denial. But if you don't want to be remembered predominantly for this incident, steer clear of natural bodily functions in public.JDM: Again, global common sense. We all have blamed it on the dog at some point! 
The Russian Dos and Don'ts

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