Sunday, November 29, 2015

Дедушка Мороз - Old Man Frost

As the holiday season approaches, I thought this would be a good time to discuss the Russian gift-bringing character, Дедушка Мороз/Дед Мороз (Dedushka Moroz/Ded Moroz). This character existed as a figure of Slavic folklore who controlled/ embodied the winter (similar to Jack Frost). As christian traditions moved into Russia, the character began to take a similar role to other gift-giver characters from other regions. The popularity of Ded Moroz rose significantly in the 19th century. In the 1930s, the regime of Joseph Stalin discouraged the celebration of Christmas on the grounds that it was bourgeoise and religious. However, Pavel Postychev wrote a letter to Stalin on December 28th 1935, requesting that some holiday traditions be revived as they predate christian traditions and could be beneficial to the children. At this point, Ded Moroz was revived as a figure of the celebration of the New Year in Soviet Russia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the celebration of the New Year and the character of Ded Moroz remained strong in Russia itself, but in other Soviet controlled countries, was either replaced by alternate figures or abandoned entirely.
Like Santa Claus, Ded Moroz is depicted as having a long white beard, wearing red (though he wore blue in the 1930s to avoid being associated with the western Santa Claus), and giving gifts to children during the holidays. Unlike Santa, he is depicted as having a magical staff, riding a troika, wearing valenki, traveling with his granddaughter, Снегурочка/Snegurochka ("Snow Maiden", her character dates back to the 19th century), and delivering gifts on New Year's day in person rather than on Christmas eve overnight. While Santa is said to live in the north pole, Ded Moroz is said to live in Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Oblast. To welcome the new year, one can say "С Новым годом".                        

Christmas in Russia: C рождеством!

Unless you are a Catholic, most people in Russia celebrate Christmas on January 7th.
Russia tradition is to fast on Christmas Eve, until the first star has appeared in the sky. People then eat 'kutia' a porridge made from wheat or rice served with honey, poppy seeds, berries and dried fruit, chopped walnuts or sometimes even fruit jellies!
Kutia is sometimes eaten from one common bowl, this symbolizes unity. In the past, some families like to throw a spoonful of sochivo up on the ceiling. If it stuck to the ceiling, some people thought it meant they would have good luck and would have a good harvest.  
Sauerkraut is normally the main dish in the Christmas Eve meal. It can be served with cranberries, cumin, shredded carrot and onion rings. It might be followed by vegetable pies or porridge dishes such as buckwheat with fried onions and fried mushrooms.
Dessert is often things like fruit pies, gingerbread and honeybread cookies and fresh and dried fruit and more nuts.
'Vzvar’ is normally served at the end of the meal, It's a sweet drink made from dried fruit and honey boiled in water. Vzvar is traditionally at the birth of a child, so at Christmas it symbolizes the birth of the baby Jesus.
The Russian Santa Claus is named Father Frost. Accompanied by the Snow Maiden, he brings presents to children to place under the New Year's tree. He carries a staff, wears Russian wool felt boots called “valenki” and is carried across Russia in a 3-horse drawn sleigh called a "troika.”
Fun Fact:  One of the most famous things about Christmas in Russia, to people in western Europe and the USA, is the story of Babushka. This famous story explains how an old women met the wise men on their way to see Jesus.  However, most people in Russia have never heard of the story.  It seems that it was probably made up by an American writer.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


From Russia With -Or Without- Love

Since it is clearly the Winter Season here in Florida (it is officially sub-80; break out the Uggs!), there’s nothing people want to do more than plop down in front of a blazing fireplace and bundle themselves up in a thick bear-fur coat in preparation of the blizzards that are sure to come. Now, while Russian winters are clearly milder than those of the frigid Southern US, the thin-blooded people still use it as an excuse to cuddle. Which brings us to love…

Love is an interesting thing, in Russia. I could write an entire dissertation on Putin and gay rights, but that is another paper for another day.

Just as exciting is the idea that it is considered a bad thing, when attempting to woo a potential date, to give him/her an even number of flowers. This is because large bouquets like this are typically associated with funerals, and are considered bad luck when bestowed upon the living. So, buying a dozen roses is a big no-no.

That said, if your woman turns you down because you didn’t bring flowers, you’re chances are still pretty decent! There are substantially more women in Russia than men, almost 10,000,000. People initially believed it was due to the number of men who died during World War II. Romantic, indeed.
And on the off-chance one of the many women in said country does decide to partake in the classic American chivalry, you may find yourself wearing your wedding rings on your right hand rather than your left. In many Eastern countries, this is considered the tradition.

Something you might want to consider, since Moscow is home to more billionaires than any other city in the world.

Winter is coming. May mittens and hot chocolate bring warm fuzzies to your heart.

Russian Facts!

Russian Blog (internet was down for part of 11/18/2015)
                Sense I am studying Russian I figured a few funny facts would be needed
                                Beer wasn't considered an alcoholic drink in Russia until 2011.
                One out of four Russian men die before their 55th birthday.
                                Probably due to the mass amounts of drinking. Come on beer was a soft drink! Also some Russians are said to drink 3 liters of Vodka a week!
                There is no word for "fun" in Russian.
                                Way to follow stereotypes right? There are a few words like "веселье," which translates to "joy" or "merriment," and there's also the verb form "веселиться."
                Recently, some Russian restaurants have stopped using the word "borscht" — instead opting to say "beet root soup" — because the word "borscht" is Ukrainian.

                                This expresses how the pride in the Russian culture is still dominate. On another note it’s also funny that the word for the German language means someone who speaks Russian poorly. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Christmas in Russia

Some Russians observe Christmas on January 7 which follows the Julian calendar used by the Russian Orthodox Church, however some Catholic Russians still celebrate it on December 25th.

In Russian, Happy/Merry Christmas is C рождеством! or Счастливого рождества!

Some Orthodox Christian Russians fast on Christmas Eve until the first star is in the sky that night. At this time they eat a porridge made from wheat or rice with honey, poppy seeds, berries, and nuts called Kutia which symbolizes unity. As a common superstition, that if they throw a spoonful of Kutia onto the ceiling and if it sticks it will bring them good luck and a good harvest.  Following the meal, prayers might be said and people then go to the midnight Church services. They often don't wash the dishes until they get home from Church - sometimes not until 4.00am or 5.00am!

The New Year celebrations are still very important to Russians (sometimes more than Christmas).

This is when - when 'Father Frost' (Дед Мороз) brings presents to children. He is always accompanied by his Grandaughter (Snegurochka). On New Year's eve children hold hands, make a circle around the Christmas tree and call for both of them. They bring light to the Christmas tree.

Overall, it is a very festive season lasting from December 31st to January 10th.


The самовар is a symbol of Russian culture. It is used to heat up water to make tea. The tea is made by brewing a tea concentrate and using the boiling water to dilute it. A tea pot is used to make the tea concentrate which is placed on top of the самовар to keep the concentrate cool.  The water was traditionally heated up by coal or charcoal but newer ones use electricity. Sitting around with family and friends with a самовар is part of Russian tradition.



Kazan is a beautiful city in Russia. It's the capital of the republic of Tatarstan in Russia. The city is a symbol of peace. I'm writing about this city because it was honored by the UNESCO for peace. People from different ethnicities and from different religions live in peace side- by-side. There are Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people there. All of them live in peace. There are about 1 million people live there.

In 2009, it became the Third Capital of Russia. It is also referred to as Sports Capital of Russia. The city hosted many sports events. The city will host 2018 FIFA World Cub.

People is Kazan speak Tatar and Russian languages

Source: Wikipedia


This post for Portfolio 4


Mathemetician Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky is known for founding the field of non-Euclidean geometry. This field involves the formation of lines and shapes in curved space, as opposed to Euclidean geometry, which deals exclusively with figures on flat planes. He was born in Novgorod, Russia, in 1792, and died in 1856. He studied at Kazan State University under German professors and received a master’s degree from the school, and stayed on as a professor of mathematics. When the Kazan region instituted xenophobic policies and the German faculty left the school, Lobachevsky was promoted and conducted his mathematical research at the school.

Lobachevsky, Nikolay Ivanovich

He called his studies “imaginary geometry”, and his research into curved geometry is considered some of the most important in mathematics. However, when he was elected as an honorary member of Moscow State University’s faculty, he found only scorn for his ideas from his colleagues there. It was not until the late 1860s that his work was fully appreciated.

Credit to
Russia Attacking ISIS

About a month ago, ISIS took down a Russian tourist plane with 224 passengers on board over Egypt. After last week’s terrorist attack in Paris, Russia and France built an alliance against the common enemy. Russia immediately intensified its air raids against ISIS. President Putin made it very clear that there will be further attacks on Islamic State strongholds in Syria. 

Peter the Great and his Beard Tax

Peter der-Grosse 1838.jpg
During Peter the Great's reign as Tsar and eventually Emperor of Russia, he attempted to westernize and modernize Russia in order to make Western Europe take Russia seriously. One of the things he did to try and make this happen was by instituting a beard tax; anyone that had a beard in Russia, and especially inside his court, had to pay a tax in order to keep their beards. In one interesting story about trying to enforce this beard tax, he forced his entire court to shave their beards. One of the people within his court had refused to do it, so Peter the Great did it for him. 

Recycling in Russia

Every year, Moscow produces about 9 million tonnes of rubbish - a fifth of all the waste produced in Russia - which goes to 38 landfill sites on the edges of the city. In Dyakovo, a town next to the Dmitrovsky dump, the soil is so contaminated that vegetables will not grow there.

With 24 dumps scheduled to shut this year, the situation is so urgent that local authorities are pledging to recycle or incinerate as much as 65% of the city's waste - up from just 10% at present.

In the Soviet era, citizens sorted their own rubbish, earning a small amount of money for scrap metal, paper and glass handed in at local collection points. But mountains of rubbish have piled up ever since the system collapsed.
Recycling companies are starting to pop up in the region, sensing opportunity. But one firm says until local laws change, burying rubbish in a landfill is the cheapest option.

Russian Stereotypes

Stereotypes are everywhere. Here are some example stereotypes about Russians.

- Russians love Vodka.
Image result for putin- Russians are anti-laughter (Putin)
-All Russians wear Ushankas (fur hats)
-All Russians are bad drivers

Russian Athletes Under Investigation for 2016 Olympics

Recently, after allegations that professional Russian athletes have been using performance-enhancing drugs, Russia's sports programs have been put under investigation for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics.  The Russian sports authorities are suspected of sponsoring a nation-wide doping program.  So far, the entire Track & Field team has been put under suspension for the upcoming 2016 Olympics. However, Russia is doing all they can to make changes to earn back their privilege of going to Rio de Janeiro by cracking down on the athletes, coaches, and officials who have been participating in this doping program. Russia's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko has taken up responsibility in making sure that all Russian professional athletes stop taking the performance enhancing drugs.  His hope is that in a few months, they can present themselves to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to show they are capable of following IAAF rules and have their competitive status back for the 2016 Summer Olympics.    
Humiliation for Russia as IAAF bans athletes

Climate Change and U.S. - Russia Relations

The arctic region of the world is melting due to climate change. An area that has been predominantly frozen over for as long as anyone can remember, is now a sea that ships can navigate through. The United Staes Navy has recently been scrambling to catch up with countries prodding around with large navy ships. China and of course, Russia, have been sending their navies to explore this area significantly and officially "snoop around'. We have now sent some ships up to this area, formerly protected by the ice, to snoop on the folks that are snooping. This is also really freaking NATO out, cuz we all know how friendly those two are. Who knew climate change would cause so many problems?!?!?!

Click the link above to learn more about sneaky Russian ships :)

Russia hits 206 ISIS targets in Syria after confirming bomb downed passenger plane over Sinai

Russia has recently increased the number of sorties flown in Syria by the RuAF. After the confirmation that last months downing of a commercial jet was indeed caused by a bomb, Russia has escalated its intervention in Syria Bringing in Strategic bombers such as Tu-22m3s, Tu-95MCs, and TU-160s. It was also the first time Russia used in combat a new air-to-surface missile, KR Kh 101/102, which has been in service since 2012 but was not shown in public before. Many of these bombers being used were made in the early 80s and before. 

A Russian Tupolev 95 long-range bomber launches a massive air strike on the Islamic State infrastructure in Syria. © Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation

Katyn Massacre

In 1940, Soviet NKVD (secret police) agents massacred 22,000 Polish citizens, including military officers, scholars, and professionals. In the Katyn forest, 4,400 were massacred. Initially, the USSR blamed this tragedy on Nazi Germany. Special commissions were established to cover up the crime. In the end, those 'investigating' the massacre were the same men who had committed the original crime. These men originally used German pistols in anticipation of having to disguise their guilt. When the NKVD went back to the forest, the bodies were removed from their mass graves and false documents were planted on the victims in preparation for further investigation. It took many years of both the USSR and Germany rejecting all accusations of guilt before the truth was finally revealed during Gorbachev's glasnost. Still, not all of the documents were released and it took many years for the Polish to piece together these tragic events.

The Ural Mountains

One of Russia's major geographical features is the Ural mountain range. The range runs from the Arctic Ocean down to Kazakhstan and is considered to be natural division between Europe and Asia. "Ural" also refers to the region famous for the presence of gems and other stones. Mining in this also includes copper, iron, gold, platinum, silver, nickel, and other various metals.

In addition to the natural resources found in this area, there are also a variety of people groups inhabiting the area. One website ( <- very original name), claims there are 42 people groups in this region.

Also, there was a meteor that hit in 2013.

Фёдор Достое́вский

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is an acclaimed Russian writer and regarded as one of the best not only in Russian culture, but also internationally. After experiencing traumatic events in his life such as imprisonment, exile, and most importantly the mock execution ordered by Tsar Nicholas I, he wrote about human weakness and the struggle to fit in with society. His influence for writing came from no other than Pushkin, arguably the largest name in Russian literature. Notable works include IdiotNotes From the Underground, and Crime and Punishment

Come and See

Come and See is a soviet anti-war film from 1985. It takes place in 1943 Belarus and follows a young boy trying to survive as part of a group of Belarusian partisans fighting the German occupation. At first the young boy is excited about joining the cause against the nazis, but he soon finds out about the harsh realities of war, and especially the atrocities done by the Nazis. Many of the scenes of this movie, although accurate, are truly vile and will put you in a state of shock. The director was truly trying to portray the evil deeds done by the Nazis in the war against the Eastern European countries. Although hard to watch, this remains one of my all time favorite movies. The title refers to the beginning of several sentences in the Book of Revelations, which tell you to look upon the destruction brought upon by the four horsemen of the aocolypse.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kazimir Malevich

Kazimir Malevich was a notable artist born in Kiev when it was still part of the Russian Empire in 1878. He was one of the first artists to move towards Suprematism. Suprematism focuses on shapes and limited colors. Many of these suprematism works were banned in the USSR because the Stalin regime considered them to be too bourgeois. Two of his most famous paintings are White on White and Black Square. White on white is now located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and Black Square, his magnum opus, is located in Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
          This popular Russian board game is easy to master and can be played with two to four players. There are nine levels of the playing field, and the first player to cross the finish line wins!!! This is accomplished by each player's "bug's" legs being moved toward victory.

           Each bug runs its own track, which is divided into sections, and each bug will have a "body" and six legs. Each side of the track has spaces for the bug's legs. Players are not allowed to lose legs, meaning that the legs must be connected at least diagonally at all times.

           The game begins with the bugs being placed at their start positions, which would be the first three sections of the track.

            Players move their bugs by using special cards. Each special card allows the player to move two or three of its bug's legs. At the beginning of each round players draw two cards from the card stack. If it's permitted, players will move the legs specified by the cards forward. The bug's body can be moved forward at any time during the turn, so long as it doesn't cause the bug to lose a leg.

            A round is completed when all of the players have played their current cards. After a round finishes, players draw a new set of cards and continue playing. The game is over when one bug's body has completely passed the finish line, which is located at the last three track sections.

This post is for Elementary Russian I: Unit 4

Current Events: An Impromptu Meeting

Balalaika Unit 4

The balalaika is a Russian three stringed instrument with a triangular body shape. The origin of it is unknown, but the first documentation of it was back in 1688 where a guard wrote in his log book about stopping someone from playing drunk. Some speculations of it include the three strings representing the trinity. One of the most famous to play the balalaika is Alexey Arkhipovsky. Take a look at the video to see him play.

Monday, November 16, 2015

I love listening to music in other languages and since beginning Russian I have been on the hunt for cool Russian music. Here are some of the artists that I have found so far.

время и стекло

макс корж


Mc Doni

*These links will open spotify*

Architecture Through The Ages

As somehow who holds great appreciation for the beauty of architecture, I found the difference between the architecture of the various eras of Russia to be very interesting.

First was a period from roughly 1000-1250 BCE, under the state of Kievan Rus'. This state was the predecessor of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and served as the foundation for the cultures of these areas. The architecture of this era strongly resembles that of the Byzantine empire, with thick walls and helmeted cupolas.

Palace of the Patriarch of Moscow, with the Church of the Twelve Apostles (1653)
Throughout the Early, Middle, and Late Muscovite periods (roughly 1250-1700), there is a transition from the Byzantine-like architecture to that of Imperial Russia, with arches being used as a design element, and tented roofs gaining in popularity.

In Imperial Russia, trends turned towards European styles. Peter I favored Petrine Baroque, whereas Catherine the Great brought in neoclassical architects to create the projects she favored. Elements like many windows and long palaces were favored in this period, such as is evidenced in the Winter Palace, built from 1762-1796.

The Post-Revolution and Post-Soviet Union eras of architecture very much reflect the times, with stark, clean, lines, and many columns. Rounded buildings were also favored in some areas, like as with the Melnikov House. Currently in Russia, Stalinist designs are favored, though there have been shifts to architecture which matches the grand skyscraper designs found in large cities across the world.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Medovukha is an alcoholic, honey-based drink, and has also been known as “mead.” This drink was originally popular with royalty, as the honey took from five to twenty years to ferment under traditional conditions, making it very expensive. Medovukha became more popular in ordinary society when faster and more effective ways of fermentation were developed, making the drink cheaper and easier to access for everyone. Medovukha was first stumbled upon by the Old Slavs, who always looked for ways in which the forest could provide for their dietary needs. They found that honey was a good food source, and noticed that it would ferment on the surface after some time had passed. After drinking this liquid and finding it delectable, the Slavs began to produce medovukha from there on out.

Жаркое - Russian Stew

Жаркое is a hearty meat stew made with any type of meat and root vegetables and baked slowly in a clay pot. Since we did not have a clay pot, we had to use a dutch oven for this recipe.

- 20 baby potatoes  (quartered)
- 2 1/4 lbs pork tenderloin  (cut into 1 inch cubes)
- 6 carrots (cubed)
- 2 large onions (chopped)
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 325 Fº. In dutch oven, heat oil over med-high and sauté carrots and onions for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and sweat for additional 15 minutes. Salt and pepper the pork cubes and vegetables. Scoot the vegetables to the edges and up the sides of the dutch oven, turn the heat back up to med-high, then add the pork. Brown for about 5 minutes, stirring the entire time. Turn off the heat and add the potatoes, chicken stock, and spices, cover with lid, and bake for 50 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then serve.

After trying this dish, I thought that it was somewhat lacking in flavor. However, I did appreciate the practicality and nutritional value of the dish. The problem of the lack of flavor could be solved by adding more or different spices or meats. This is a fairly basic dish that could allow for a lot of potential to see what works and what doesn't. It was also incredibly filling.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Peter the Great

Peter the Great is easily my favorite Russian Tsar, and is arguably one of the most influential. He towered above his peers at about six feet, (which was abnormally tall at the time) and was rather intimidating and ferocious. His hobbies included horseback riding, sword-fighting, beard burnings, and stretchings (the latter two are forms of torture, which he was rather fond of as a whole). After a trip to Europe where he met different European rulers and learned of western customs, he decided to bring what he loved about the west to Russia. He required nobles to wear European style clothes and to trim their long beards. Peter also famously started a war in order to gain territory at a warm water port, where he later built St. Petersburg, his new capital. He made St Petersburg the center of new European inspired intellectual thought.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Russian Flag

This flag is the official flag of Russia since 1993. It is not completely sure where it comes from and what the colors exactly mean. It has also been the Russian flag from 1699-1858, 1883-1914 and from 1917-1918. The tricolor flag got probably invented by Tsar Peter the Great. He used the Dutch flag as an example and changed the order of the colors. These colors (red, blue, white) are now the colors of the Pan-Slavism and also seen in the Slovakian and Slovenian flag.

Original meaning of the colors:
            White -> freedom
            Blue -> Mary (mother of Jesus)
            Red -> power of the Tsar

Actual meaning of the colors:
            White -> belief and generosity
            Blue -> hope and honesty
            Red -> love, courage and bravery