Russian Culture and Traditions

Many foreigners consider Russians strange, talking about the mysterious Russian soul and absolutely illogical actions.  Russians have a lot of traditions and habits that foreigners can neither understand nor explain.


Girls, especially urban, love to dress up. For example, an evening dress and stiletto heels are the perfect outfit for walking around the city.

Having packed their belongings and packed up their bags, the Russians will sit for a moment, to “sit on the path.”

Only a lazy Russian limited to the phrase "for health" or "na zdorovie". So, when someone rises to make a toast, be ready to follow the train of thought for the next half hour.

When asking the Russian “How are you?”, Do not expect to hear back simply “Thank you, good.” Here, in response, it is customary to report in detail about the entire current life situation.

Russians don't just smile out of politeness. A smile needs to be earned, and friends usually smile, and strangers smile is not accepted.

Forget Christmas! The main winter holiday is the New Year with an essential NEW YEAR tree and gifts under it.


In fact Russians love New Year so much that they have two of them. The old New Year is a rare historical phenomenon, an additional celebration that resulted from the change of the calendar. Because of this discrepancy of calendars, Russians celebrate two “New Years” - in the old and new styles. By the twentieth century, the calendar of Russia, which continued to use the Julian calendar, was 13 days behind Europe, which had long since switched to the Gregorian calendar. To reduce this gap in 1918, they switched to the Gregorian calendar - a new style. However everyone kept celebrating New Year by Gregorian and a Julian calendar.


Russian cultural history

Ancient Rus'

Ancient Russian art and Culture of Ancient Rus'
The culture of Ancient Rus' is characterized by the following features:
An important role was played by the experience of previous generations, traditions.
Locality, isolation, disunity of Russian lands, caused by the lack of economic interests in the conditions of natural economy.
Strong influence of religion.

Culture of Russia in the XIII—XVII centuries
Key features of cultural development in that period:
The need for self-identification of the Russian people and, as a result, the blurring of differences between individual principalities and the formation of a common Russian culture.
The rise of the Orthodox Church as the guardian of the cultural and political traditions of the Russian state. The end of doubling.
Rus''s self-isolation not only from Muslim, but also from Catholic countries.


Russian empire

The Russian Empire, due to historical circumstances, throughout its existence willingly borrowed many elements of Western European culture and customs. And as a result, in the understanding of the "Western" observer, the cultural level of the overwhelming population of Russia was not high. However, it is impossible to overestimate the contribution of leading Russian figures to world culture.



The culture of Russia is the cumulative culture of countries and nationalities living on the territory of the Soviet Union.

Theatrical art, cinematography, and fine arts developed intensively. In certain periods, the development of cultures of ethnic minorities and national cultures was encouraged.


Modern history

Culture of the peoples of Russia

The modern history of culture in Russia is connected with the restoration of elements of the culture of the Russian Empire and its integration into the cultural heritage of the USSR. Russia is actively restoring churches and religious customs, and the institution of patronage is being revived. In addition, values characteristic of Western and Eastern civilizations come into the existing culture of the USSR, for example, the traditions of the popular culture of the West or tea ceremonies and cuisine of Eastern countries are introduced. There are many thematic festivals, exhibitions and events. In 2012, 77% of the inhabitants of Russian cities fully or basically agreed with the fact that there are enough cultural institutions (theaters, cinemas, galleries, libraries) in cities.

As British sociology professor Hilary Pilkington notes in 2007: “There is a tendency to see Russia as a unique society that is made up of different cultural traditions, being not a ‘hybrid’ but a unique entity that has been created from many and different cultural influences.”

Culture of the peoples of Russia
The Russian Federation is a multinational state. In the Russian Federation, in addition to Russians, who make up more than 80% of the population, about 180 other peoples live. The most noticeable influence was exerted by the culture based on the Russian language, however, the cultural heritage of other peoples also plays a role in the development of the all-Russian culture.



The most widely spoken language in Russia is Russian. It is also the state language of the Russian Federation in accordance with Article 68 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. However, the number of speakers of eight more languages in the Russian Federation exceeds one million people.

The republics within the Russian Federation have the right to establish their own state languages and, as a rule, exercise this right: for example, in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, in addition to Russian, the Abaza, Karachay, Nogai and Circassian languages have the status of a state language. But in the Republic of Karelia, the language of the titular nation (Karelian), as well as the languages of other national minorities - Finnish and Vepsian languages ​​are not recognized as state languages and Russian is the only state language of the republic. As a result of this, Karelia is the only republic within the Russian Federation in which none of the indigenous peoples living on its territory have their own national language among the state ones.

Despite the efforts made in many regions to preserve and develop local languages, in Russia the trend towards a language shift that emerged back in Soviet times persists, when Russian becomes the native language of non-Russian citizens, while a superficial knowledge of the mother language (the language of their ethnic group) becomes nothing more than a marker of ethnicity.

Cyrillic is a writing system and an alphabet for a language based on Old Slavonic Cyrillic (they talk about Russian, Serbian, etc. Cyrillic; it is incorrect to call the “Cyrillic alphabet” the formal union of several or all national Cyrillic alphabets). The Old Church Slavonic Cyrillic alphabet (alphabet and writing system), in turn, is based on the Greek alphabet.

11 out of 28 Slavic languages have Cyrillic-based alphabets, as well as 101 non-Slavic languages that were previously unwritten or had other writing systems and were converted to Cyrillic in the late 1930s (see: list of languages with Cyrillic-based alphabets) .

Russian is one of the East Slavic languages. It is one of the largest languages in the world, including the most widespread of the Slavic languages. The Russian language originated from Old Russian, along with the Ukrainian and Belarusian languages.


Russian literature

Russian literature reflected not only aesthetic, moral and spiritual values and ideas; According to leading Russian thinkers, literature is also the philosophy of Russia.

Until the 18th century, secular literature practically did not exist in Russia. There are several monuments of ancient Russian literature of a religious or annalistic nature - The Tale of Bygone Years, The Tale of Igor's Campaign, The Prayer of Daniel the Sharpener, Zadonshchina, The Life of Alexander Nevsky and other lives. The authors of these works are currently unknown. The folk art of that period is represented by an original genre of epic, fairy tales.

Secular literature appeared in Russia only in the 17th century. The first known work of this kind is “The Life of Archpriest Avvakum” (despite the name, it cannot be called a religious work, since it was written by Avvakum himself, the canonical lives were written only after the death of the saint).

In the 18th century, a galaxy of secular writers and poets appeared in Russia. Among them are the poets Vasily Trediakovsky, Antioch Kantemir, Gavriil Derzhavin, Mikhail Lomonosov; writers Nikolai Karamzin, Alexander Radishchev; playwrights Alexander Sumarokov and Denis Fonvizin. The dominant artistic style of literature at that time was classicism.

Among the most famous poets of Russia:
Vasily Andreevich Zhukovsky (1783-1852)
Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin (1799-1837)
Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov (1814-1841)
Alexander Alexandrovich Blok (1880-1921)
Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin (1895-1925)
Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)
Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)
and many others.

Among the most famous writers of Russia:
Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol (1809-1852)
Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (1818-1883)
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910)
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904)
Ivan Alekseevich Bunin (1870-1953)
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (1899-1977)


Art of Russia

Icon painting

Russian icon painting inherited the traditions of Byzantine masters. At the same time, their own traditions were born in Rus'. The most comprehensive collection of icons is in the Tretyakov Gallery.

Russian icons were not mere imitations, but had their own style, and masters such as Andrei Rublev raised the level of icon painting to new heights.



The first realistic portraits appeared in Russia in the 17th century, in the middle - the end of the 18th century such major painters as Levitsky and Borovikovsky appeared in Russia. Russian painting since that time has followed global trends. Outstanding artists of the first half of the 19th century: Kiprensky, Bryullov, Ivanov (“The Appearance of Christ to the People”).

In the second half of the 19th century, realist painting flourished. The creative association of Russian artists "Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions" ("Wanderers") was founded, which included such great artists as Vasnetsov, Kramskoy, Shishkin, Kuindzhi, Surikov, Repin, Savrasov.

At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, the World of Art association operated. Its members or artists close to the movement were Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel, Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin, Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich, Isaac Ilyich Levitan.


Russian sculpture

Russian avant-garde

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Russia became one of the centers of avant-garde art. Outstanding representatives of the avant-garde: Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, Pavel Filonov. Common to the Russian avant-garde was the rejection of old forms of art in favor of a new one, more in line with the current moment of reality. A similar direction in the development of the thought of artists also existed in all other countries of Europe, while the art of America lagged behind in its development. In those years, for the first time since the time of Peter I, there was a definite connection between the fine arts of Russia and the fine arts of European countries. In the 1930s, with the growing influence of the style of socialist realism, this connection was broken. Many researchers associate the origins of the Russian avant-garde not so much with the revolution as with the industrial leap of that time.


Soviet art

Socialist realism

Socialist realism is the main artistic method used in the art of the Soviet Union since the 1930s; it was allowed, recommended or imposed (in different periods of the country's development) by state censorship, and therefore was closely associated with ideology and propaganda. It has been officially approved since 1932 by the party organs in literature and art. In parallel, unofficial art of the USSR existed.

Representatives of social realism - V. I. Mukhina, A. A. Deineka, I. I. Brodsky, E. P. Antipova, B. E. Efimov. Works in the genre of socialist realism are characterized by the presentation of the events of the era, "dynamically changing in their revolutionary development." The ideological content of the method was laid down by dialectical materialist philosophy and the communist ideas of Marxism (Marxist aesthetics) in the second half of the 19th-20th centuries. The method covered all areas of artistic activity (literature, drama, cinema, painting, sculpture, music and architecture).



Classical music, opera and ballet

Russian classical music contains the creative legacy of such great composers as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov, the Mighty Handful of Composers, Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninov, Igor Fedorovich Stravinsky. Among the Soviet composers, some of the most significant are: Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev, Dmitry Dmitrievich Shostakovich, Aram Ilyich Khachaturian, Alfred Schnittke.

There are many world-famous classical works in Russian music, including famous symphonies, concertos, ballets (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, The Rite of Spring), operas (Boris Godunov, Eugene Onegin, Ivan Susanin) ), suites ("Pictures at an Exhibition")


Soviet jazz

The first jazz concert in the USSR took place in Moscow on October 1, 1922 at one o'clock in the afternoon on the stage of the Central College of Theater Arts (later - GITIS) in Maly Kislovsky Lane. It was a concert of "Valentin Parnakh's First Eccentric Jazz Band Orchestra in the RSFSR".


Popular music

In the first half of the 20th century, such performers as Alexander Vertinsky and Leonid Utyosov were popular. In Soviet times, the so-called. "variety" popular music (Muslim Magomaev, Lev Leshchenko, Alla Pugacheva, Valery Leontiev, Iosif Kobzon).

Pop music has been developing in the USSR and Russia since the second half of the 20th century according to the Western prototype. It is popular primarily among the Russian-speaking population of the world. In Western countries, Russian pop musicians rarely achieve great commercial success (this was done, for example, by the Tatu group).


Russian rock

Russian rock is a collective term for Russian-language rock music, created first in the USSR, then in Russia and the CIS countries by various musicians and groups. The most famous groups: "Aria" "King and Jester" "Time Machine", "Aquarium", "Nautilus Pompilius", "Kino", "Alice", "Sounds of Mu", "DDT", "Chayf", "Splin" , "Bi-2", "Agatha Christie", "Auktyon", "December", etc.

Russian rock groups were greatly influenced by Western rock music, as well as Russian author's song (Vladimir Vysotsky, Bulat Okudzhava), usually performed with an acoustic guitar.



Old Russian architecture followed a tradition whose roots were established in Byzantium. After the fall of Kyiv, Russian architectural history continued in the Vladimir-Suzdal principality, the Novgorod and Pskov republics, and the Russian kingdom. In the future, Russian architecture was greatly influenced by Western European architecture, as exemplified, for example, by the development of St. Petersburg and its environs. Since the middle of the 19th century, with the development of historicism in different countries, they began to turn to the architectural heritage of past eras, in particular, with the growth of national self-consciousness, to folk architecture. Artists and architects of the Russian Empire turned their attention to ancient Russian architecture, creating Russian and neo-Russian styles. Slavist and historian of Russian architecture W. K. Brumfield singled out Russian wooden architecture and constructivism as the most significant achievements of Russian architecture.

The ancient buildings of the peoples of the Caucasus (Ossetian, Rutulian architecture) have been preserved.


Religious buildings

From Byzantium, Russian churches inherited a vestibule or refectory located along the west-east axis, a naos and an altar. Characteristic features of Russian churches: onion domes and many domes.


Civil architecture

The traditional Russian dwelling of the peasants was a log cabin with a two- or four-pitched roof. Wealthy citizens built mansion complexes. In the XVIII-XIX centuries, the appearance of civil architecture changed under the influence of baroque, classicism, eclecticism.

Avant-garde projects of garden cities, communal houses, housing complexes, socialist cities became a bright page in the history of architecture of the USSR. In the early 1930s, with a change in the political situation, the architecture of the avant-garde was banned, and with it the projects of residential buildings and complexes with a socialized way of life declared "leftist bends", the period of Stalinist architecture began. The transition to mass standard construction under N. S. Khrushchev gave rise to the so-called "Khrushchev".



Russian theatrical art is one of the most promising in the world. World famous theaters operate in Russia, such as the Mariinsky Theatre, the Bolshoi and the Maly Theatres.



Circus art is developed and popular in Russia. Among the famous circus performers: clowns Yuri Nikulin, Pencil, Oleg Popov; magicians (illusionists) Emil Kio and Igor Kio, trainers Vladimir Durov, brothers Edgard and Askold Zapashny.



Already in April 1896, 4 months after the first Paris cinema screenings, the first cinematographic apparatus appeared in Russia. On May 4 (16), 1896, the first in Russia demonstration of the “Lumière Cinematograph” took place in the theater of the St. Petersburg garden “Aquarium” - several films were shown to the public during the intermission between the second and third acts of the vaudeville “Alfred Pasha in Paris”. In May, Camille Cerf makes the first in Russia documentary filming of the celebrations in honor of the coronation of Nicholas II. Film screenings quickly became fashionable entertainment, and permanent cinemas began to appear in many large Russian cities. The first permanent cinema opened in St. Petersburg in May 1896 at 46 Nevsky Prospekt.

The first Russian feature films were adaptations of fragments of classical works of Russian literature (“The Song about the Merchant Kalashnikov”, “The Idiot”, “The Fountain of Bakhchisaray”), folk songs (“Ukhar the Merchant”) or illustrated episodes from Russian history (“The Death of Ivan the Terrible”). ", "Peter the Great"). In 1911, the first full-length film in Russia, The Defense of Sevastopol, was released, jointly directed by Alexander Khanzhonkov and Vasily Goncharov.

In 1913, in the wake of the general upsurge of the Russian economy, the rapid growth of the cinema industry begins, new firms are formed - including the largest film company I. N. Ermoliev, among which more than 120 films were made such significant films as The Queen of Spades (1916) and Father Sergius (published in 1918) by Yakov Protazanov. The heyday of artistic Russian cinema falls on the time of the First World War. During this period, the outstanding film stylist Evgeny Bauer makes his main films, Vladimir Gardin and Vyacheslav Viskovskiy are actively working.

After the collapse of the USSR, cinema in Russia is in crisis: many film studios are experiencing financial difficulties. Film production in Russia is strongly influenced by American films. In the 1990s, the number of big-budget films is not large (there are such films as The Barber of Siberia and the Russian Riot). In the era of the 2000s, against the backdrop of economic growth, there is a qualitative and quantitative growth in the film industry.

Films produced in Russia and its predecessor countries are winners of major international film festivals such as Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Moscow.

Every year dozens of film festivals are held in Russia, among which the largest are the Moscow Film Festival (accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations) and Kinotavr.



Soviet animation is known all over the world, it is distinguished by the use of pastel colors, spirituality, kindness of content, and the presence of a strong educational component. Thousands of cartoons were shot at the most famous studios in the USSR and Russia (Soyuzmultfilm, Tsentrnauchfilm, Kievnauchfilm).

Film critics date the first Russian cartoon Pierrot the Artists to 1906, shot by Alexander Shiryaev, choreographer of the Mariinsky Theatre.

The cartoon "Hedgehog in the Fog" by Yuri Norstein in 2003 in Tokyo was recognized as the best cartoon of all time according to a survey of 140 film critics and animators from different countries.



Before the baptism of Rus' (988), pagan cults dominated the Russian Plain, which were characterized by polytheism, animism, the cult of ancestors, spirits and forces of nature. Many relics of paganism are preserved in the folk religion of Russians up to the present day, especially in rural areas (first of all, elements of funeral and memorial rites). Many non-Slavic peoples of Russia retained their ethnic religions, in particular shamanism, until the 19th-20th centuries.



Orthodox Christianity is the most widespread religion in modern Russia. Came to Rus' from Byzantium. The official date of the Baptism of Rus' under Prince Vladimir is 988.

Traditionally, Catholicism (not including Greek Catholics in western Ukraine and Belarus) in Russia (Russian Empire) was practiced by Russian subjects of Polish, German, Lithuanian and Latvian origin.

Since the late 1980s, there has been some growth in the number of adherents among people who do not have historical and family ties to Catholicism.

Protestantism was brought in by merchants, soldiers, and other visiting professionals from Germany shortly after the Reformation. The first Lutheran church appeared in Moscow already in 1576. Protestant immigration from Europe continued in the future. In addition, Protestantism was historically widespread in the north-west of the country among the local population in the territories conquered from Sweden as a result of the Northern and Russian-Swedish wars. Restrictions (“golden cage”) on the part of the authorities, in particular, a strict ban on preaching in Russian, led to the closure of traditional Protestant communities along ethnic lines and persecution of the spreaders of new teachings, such as Stunda, and then Baptism.

With the revival of churches after the collapse of the USSR, traditional Protestant communities that were previously ethnic (German, Estonian, Swedish, Finnish, etc.) are often replenished with people with completely different roots, in particular, Russians, which is caused, on the one hand, by a strong the decline of ethnic Germans and Finns due to repressions and mass emigration, on the other hand, the attractiveness of the doctrine and the favorable climate in the parishes. Noticeable activity and new trends, in particular, American, such as the Pentecostals.

The number of Protestants in Russia cannot be accurately determined. According to various sources, from 2% to 4% of the population consider themselves to be Protestants, while from 0.6% to 1.5% actively participate in religious life. This means that, by a rough estimate, every hundredth inhabitant of the country is a conscious Protestant. Baptists are the most common, with an estimated congregation of at least 100,000.

The contribution of Protestants to the culture of Russia is the custom of putting up a New Year tree.



According to experts during the last census, the question of religious affiliation was not asked) in Russia there are up to 14.5 million Muslims, if we consider the total number of peoples historically associated with Islam. According to the Spiritual Administration of Muslims, about 20 million Muslims live in the European part of the Russian Federation. However, sociologist Roman Silantiev considers these data to be overestimated and estimates the real number of Muslims at 11-12 million people, but some people criticize his data, pointing out that 16.2 million people live in Russia alone from the Caucasus.

Most Muslims live in the Volga-Ural region, as well as in the North Caucasus, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Western Siberia. There are more than 6,000 mosques in Russia (in 1991 there were about a hundred).

Buddhism is traditional for three regions of Russia: Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmykia. According to the Buddhist Association of Russia, the number of people practicing Buddhism is 1.5-2 million people.

At present, many Buddhist schools are represented in Russia: Theravada, Japanese and Korean Zen, several directions of the Mahayana, and practically all schools of Tibetan Buddhism that exist in the world.

The northernmost Buddhist Datsan in the world, built before the Revolution in Petrograd (Datsan Gunzechoinei), now serves as a tourist and cult center of Russian Buddhist culture. Preparations are underway for the construction of a Buddhist temple in Moscow, which could unite Russian Buddhists around itself in joint practice for the benefit of all sentient beings in Russia and the world.

The number of Jews is about 1.5 million. Of these, according to the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR), about 500 thousand live in Moscow, and about 170 thousand in St. Petersburg. There are about 70 synagogues in Russia.

Slavic neo-paganism
Since the late 1980s, a new religious movement has been actively developing among modern Slavic peoples, based on the revival of pre-Christian beliefs and rituals with the veneration of patron gods (Perun, Rod, Mokosh, Veles and others).

The Slavic neo-pagan movement is not a single one, there are different currents in it, often not recognizing and rejecting each other, these are Rodnovery reenactors, who set the goal of reviving ancient beliefs in the most accurate form, as well as syncretic movements, like the "Ringing Cedars of Russia" constructing a new mythology. However, the only thing neo-paganism has in common is anti-Semitism.


Russian cuisine

The cuisine of Russia, like the culture of Russia, is a two-part entity. The first, and most significant, part of it is Russian cuisine, based on the Slavic traditions of Rus' with borrowings from other peoples, which eventually became part of the unified Russian state. In addition, the nobility, the intelligentsia and other people who have the opportunity to visit abroad, as well as foreigners, have brought many elements of foreign cuisine into modern Russian mass cuisine.

The second direction of Russian cuisine refers to the national traditions of the peoples and nationalities living in Russia. The cuisine of each nation has its own unique dishes and methods of their preparation, based on products cultivated and collected from ancient times in this territory, made using original kitchen utensils. Combined with local customs, religious rites and the opportunity to interact with modern civilization, the cuisines of the peoples of Russia make an invaluable contribution to its cultural heritage.

Among the most famous dishes of Russian cuisine are borscht, vinaigrettes, pies, pancakes, cheesecakes, cabbage soup, kvass, fruit drinks and others.


Drinking culture

In Russia, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is an acute social problem, the consumption of strong, and not only, alcohol in large quantities began after the opening of drinking establishments during the reign of Peter I. Before that, alcohol consumption was extremely insignificant.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages has given Russia serious social problems associated with alcoholism and drunkenness.

Nevertheless, in terms of alcohol consumption per capita, Russia is in 18th place, behind such countries as Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Germany. At the same time, the diet is significantly different - for example, in Europe dry red wines prevail, and in Russia - vodka and beer.


Holidays in Russia

In Russia, there are a lot of holidays associated with many areas of a Russian's life.

One of the main holidays in the life of an ordinary Russian person is the New Year, Birthday, Weddings, Knowledge Day, professional holidays.

Since most of the population are either Orthodox or atheists, the majority annually celebrate such holidays as Christmas, Easter, Ivan Kupala. However, followers of other faiths celebrate their holidays freely.

Due to the fact that Russia has managed to change many political systems on its territory and the regime in the country, there are many political holidays. These include International Women's Day (March 8), Day of Russia, Day of National Unity, Day of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

It just so happened that Russia, being on two continents, fought very often. Very many of the warriors were bloody to the point of madness. Accordingly, holidays associated with the war appeared in Russia. These include Victory Day, Defender of the Fatherland Day, the already named Day of National Unity, Days of Military Glory.


Sports of Russia

Traditionally, in Russian culture, there are two areas for the development of sports: the sport of great achievements and physical education.

Both areas are actively developing in Russia. Many sports schools are leading in the world, which proves high achievements in the most prestigious sports competitions such as the Olympic Games, World and European Championships. Physical education and a healthy lifestyle are promoted in the country. So, for example, mass sports competitions are held, such as the Cross of Nations and the Russian Ski Track.

Also in Russia, traditions of empathy for participants in sports competitions have been developed. The most popular among the fans are team summer and winter sports such as football, basketball, hockey and others. Individual summer and winter sports such as biathlon, tennis, boxing and others are also popular.