Russian Beliefs & Superstitions

Russian folk dancers in traditional costume

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As you might have heard, Russians love customs and respect old traditions. Even today, most of the soon-to-be-wed couples choose to follow old Russian wedding traditions instead of a simpler western ceremony.

Superstitions in Russia

Did you know that Russians are also very superstitious? Although some of their beliefs might seem old wives' tales to you, small "on-a-daily-basis" rituals have almost a sacred meaning to all citizens of Russia and are very interesting to dive into if you have never heard of them before.

Peculiar Russian Beliefs

To take a seat before hitting the road, for example! When all suitcases are packed, people are dressed, and the taxi is waiting, most Russians will pause everything and quietly sit down for a minute. Though nowadays most people won’t remember where all this came from, originally, during this minute people were supposed to mentally check everything one last time without a rush and to capture the warmth of the home they were leaving to take it with them.

Sitting on the sofa before heading out

One more little "tradition" the rest of the world might find unusual is congratulating each other on getting out of a shower or sauna by saying “S lyogkim parom” (“Congratulations on light steam”). It all started hundreds of years ago with Russian banyas (traditional Russian saunas).The hottest place in a sauna was almost under the ceiling, so before going, people were wishing each other ”light steam”, the steam that will travel fast from the red-hot stones up. Over the years, this changed into the version existing now.

Sit down and calm down
Russians believe that you shouldn't rush to leave, because you will forget something important.

What Should You Know Before Heading to Russia

When Russians invite guests over, they always cook way more than it’s possible to eat during one evening and it doesn’t matter how long this evening will last. And the evenings are usually long. When Russians sit down for dinner, they can stay at the table for hours. While in America people usually move around and talk to numerous people, in Russia all conversations are happening simultaneously while sitting around the table (with an occasional pause to refill the plate).

Ironing clothes

There are some more things you should keep in mind before your Russia travel. Seeing someone walking down the street in wrinkled clothes is an exception rather than the rule. Russians prefer to iron their clothes before going out, even if they are just popping out to the grocery shop.

In Russia, it’s widely believed that anyone whistling indoors is bringing poverty on himself by “whistling money away”. So if you have a “stuck-song syndrome”, it’s better to hum the tune if you don’t want to get several weird looks in your direction.

And, at last, if you need to address a lady but you don’t know her name, you can’t go wrong with calling her a girl. Be it a child in the park, a young woman in her twenties or a person in their 70s, you can call her “devushka” and it won’t surprise anyone.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about the peculiar superstitions and beliefs of Russians. Some might sound very odd, but that's what makes Russia and its culture so interesting and worth a visit! If you would like to experience the superstitions first-hand, we are here to help you plan the most amazing trip to Russia.

More food than you can eat
Russian dinners are fun. Russians cook a lot and talk simultaneously during dinner.