Russian Traditions are common practices or customs that have been passed down from generation to generation, creating a strong and historical belief in that particular practice. Traditions can develop in any area of life, and here we look at some of the most common traditions in Russia.
New Years Traditions - New Years is the biggest (and favourite) celebration for Russians. It is the belief that the way you celebrate the New Year indicates how your year will be, so Russians prepare lavish meals and celebrate in style. On New Year's eve, a huge meal is prepared with an abundance of dishes. Duck or goose, stuffed carp, and a jellied meat called 'holodets' are among the common most dishes, as are small pies/pastries filled with cabbage, apple, meat, or a range of other fillings. On the morning of January 1, a mushroom soup is often prepared, and served together with holodets and the leftover pies.
Easter Traditions - The main tradition at Easter time is the painting of hard-boiled eggs. Red is the predominant colour, as it signifies new life. Russians exchange eggs and kind wishes for the Easter celebration. Read more about Russian Easter celebrations.
Christmas Traditions - Christmas on the Orthodox Calendar is celebrated on the 7th of January. As with other celebrations, a large meal is always prepared for Christmas. During the Soviet reign, religious celebrations were officially banned, so many people had to carry on celebrations in secret. See more detailed information about Russian christmas celebrations.
New Babies - When a new baby is born, it is tradition for the father to plant a tree, wishing the child to grow up strong and healthy just like the tree.
Birthday Celebrations - As always, Russians like to celebrate in style, so the birthday celebration is usually a lavish dinner with many dishes. It is a custom for the birthday person to provide the feast, and this includes paying for dinner if the celebration takes place in a restaurant. The celebration can sometimes go on for more than one day. A playful form of congratulations to the birthday person, is to pull their ears for the number of years they are! It is a playful joke, but it means that we wish them a long and happy life.
Blessing - When a bride and groom are ready to go to the church for the wedding, the oldest member in their family takes a religious icon from the wall. While the bride and groom kneel, the family member crosses them both with the icon, as a sign that he/she blesses their union, and wishes them a long and happy marriage.
The Loaf of Bread - At the wedding reception, the husband and wife take a big loaf of bread and bite it at the same time, without the use of their hands. This tradition is a playful game, and whoever gets the larger piece, it is said that they will be the leader of their family.
The Threshold - The husband must carry his wife over the threshold in his arms. It is a very old custom and began because people thought that a new wife would be a very appealing item to evil spirits, and thus the husband should hold her tightly and shield her from their mean eyes. Also, on the floor before the front door of the house, the husband must place a new lock – to lock his happiness there and keep it safe for him and his wife.
Autumn Weddings - According to Russian tradition, the best time of year for a wedding is always in autumn. This is because it is the time when the harvest is picked in preparation for a long winter. The hard work of spring and summer is over, and the barns are full, and it is seen as an auspicious time to tie the knot.
Travel - Before departing on a long trip, Russian people often sit in silence for a few minutes, praying for good luck and fortune during the journey.
Spring - At the beginning of spring, as the weather warms, and the days become brighter, children and young adults often play outside. They play different Russian games, they play with the remaining snow, and they and often fall in love. At this time, Russians also celebrate pancake week - called Maslenitsa - because a pancake is round like the sun, and it symbolises the new life beginning in springtime. Click here to find out all about the fun and festivities of Maslenitsa!
Autumn - In Autumn, Russians try to prepare for a long winter, so the harvests are prepared and stored. Traditionally, Russians pick apples and prepare them to last through the winter. A large store of apples signifies a family that is well-off, and ready to survive the winter.