Traditions and customs Russia

Traditions and customs Russia

Beliefs and Superstitions

The great saints of the Orthodox faith themselves have been associated with ancient pagan deities, through pagan beliefs particular.

As everywhere, many traditions and customs in Russia are being lost, especially in recent years. But many people will prefer you to put a knife and salt on the table rather than take them out of your hands. Symbols (the Evil One fears salt) must not be interfered with with a trivial gesture such as passing something from hand to hand.

The most enduring uses are those related toalcohol. If the weaker sex is represented at the table, it would be very badly perceived that at least one toast, usually the 2nd, was not raised in their honor. The drink best suited to great circumstances is vodka, which one does not "sip" (at least not in Russia!), But which one drinks "do dna" ("to the bottom", ass dry!).

Festivities and traditions

Today we celebrate Christmas (December 25) in large cities, the Orthodox Christmas (January 7) keeping an eminently religious character.
But, since the Soviet era not too focused on religion, the most celebrated holiday is the New Year, that we savor with friends for several days in a row.
On the evening of December 31, we first “accompany” last year. The 12 strokes of midnight struck by the clock in the Kremlin's Spasskaya tower are broadcast by Channel 1. Now is the time to “welcome” the New Year. The Russians, who like to party, put the table back 13 days later on the occasion of the old New Year. Moreover, the government has decreed about ten days of compulsory leave each year during this period, just to include the 2 New Years.

In some campaigns, at the deJean) still gives rise to Baptist (Ivan), and Koupala, god of fertility bathing in water to be reborn. The festival takes place during the night of the solstice by a river. It is accompanied by complex rites related to fire and water, during which young women descend into the river and are sprayed with water.

  • See the calendar of festivals and festivals in Russia

Tales and legends

In Russian beliefs, the forces of destruction and those of creation balance and even harmonize. It is the same in fairy tales.

Russian tales, with their mixture of cruelty and humor, wisdom and madness, complement beliefs drawn from the millennia of a history often little known. Together, they form an imagination, an inexhaustible source of artistic and intellectual creation, in the ballets Le Sacre du Printemps and L'Oiseau de feu by Stravinsky, or the popular-inspired tales of Pushkin, such as Le Cavalier de bronze, at the Veillées. at the Dikanka farm, marked by the supernatural, by Nicolas Gogol.


The design of an icon follows strict rules: each color has a specific meaning. The bodies are elongated, disproportionate to the size of the head. The background is often gilded, sometimes even “dressed”, covered with a silver plate and enhanced with precious stones.
The Virgin, favorite subject of icon painters, is represented in one of these 3 attitudes: hands raised in prayer (Virgin of the sign), indicating the Child she is carrying on her left arm (Virgin conductor) or cheek to cheek with the Child, placed on his right arm (Virgin of tenderness).

Icons are given a benefactor power, variable according to the saint to whom they are dedicated. Influence that can be exerted in a specific area such as healing, luck, etc. Believers pray in front of the appropriate icon for each situation, place a candle and kiss the glass that protects it.
Good to know: in a church, the most revered icon is always the 1st on the right of the iconostasis (the wall that separates the assembly of the faithful from the sanctuary where the Eucharist takes place)


Russian Orthodox songs, the gold of churches and icons are undoubtedly the first thing that one imagines when evoking religion in Russia.

Just as Russia is multinational, it is multi-religious. A sociological study published in 2012 allows us to see a little more clearly: 25,1% of the population questioned declares themselves "non-religious" but declares "to have spiritual values"; 12,9% claim to be atheists and 5,5% did not comment. This leaves 56,5% of the population to have declared a religion.

- Orthodox Christians are the most numerous (41%) and the importance of their Church is further increased by its historical and identity role.

THEIslam comes second (around 2%, probably much more today).

- “Believers (see below), Catholics and Protestants. 1,1% of the population declares itself a follower of the shamanist and neopaian religions.

Other Christian currents exist, of course: Catholic, not many. They often have Polish or Lithuanian clergy. There is also an oriental tendency called uniate (Catholics with whom priests have the right to be married), much more present in Ukraine and Belarus, but who are one of the subjects of tension between Catholics and Orthodox. A heritage of repeated invasions, they profess Catholic doctrine while applying the Orthodox liturgy.

Le Russian Buddhism, or rather Russian, which concerns 0,4% of the population, is practiced mainly in the Siberian Republic of Buryatia, east of Lake Baikal, in Tuva (southern Siberia) and in Kalmykia (southern Russia, on the Caspian) , the most westerly Buddhist territory in the world. All observe the rites of Tibetan Buddhism.


JudaïUnis and France, only correspond to 0,1% of the Russian population declaring themselves to be believers.
In the XNUMXth century, the Russian Empire housed half of the world's Jewish population. A predominantly Ashkenazi Yiddish-speaking Judaism (derived from German). But other families, clans or oriental rites exist, in particular the Karaites (in Crimea), a non-rabbinical and proselyte current, resulting from a schism of the XNUMXth century.

In the 1970s, under American and indirectly Israeli pressure, the Brezhnev power authorized the Jews to obtain exit visas from the USSR. Since 2002, the movement of emigration, especially towards Israel, has subsided.

Old Believers of the Protopope

Chez les Chrécroyants ”, those who refused the reform of Patriarch Nikon with Archpriest Avvakoum at their head. There are a few churches in Moscow, but it is especially in the peasantry that this popular current has survived, and this despite an incredible repression under Tsarism, at least until 1905, and under the Soviets.

Know-how and customs

The least we can say is that human relationships in public space do not have the appearance of a warm temperament. However, they transform completely in the private space, where the masks fall more easily. The Slavic soul, made to flourish in sometimes harsh living conditions, does not embrace unnecessary courtesies. The "hello", "please" and other "thank you" will nevertheless be received with gratitude by those to whom you send them.
However, in their relationship with each other, the Russians are more instantaneous. No need for long foreplay to see a badly mouthed saleswoman insulting an undecided buyer; but another will be just as quick to exchange tips and advice with him.

Your interlocutor will forgive you for reaching out to him through a doorstep but, more often than not, he will bring you inside, the threshold being seen as a border protecting the house from the evil forces of the outside world, or he will join you. outside. If it is a woman, know that in Russia kissing is not very common between people who know each other little.


In Western eyes, the Russians are austere, not very warm. It's just that the smile does not have the same meaning: in Russia, smiling while showing your teeth in public is vulgar. A smile that is too present during a conversation is a facade posture, a lack of frankness. We smile at those we know. Surely not to a stranger! Smiling at work betrays a lack of seriousness: no need to expect it from a waiter or a teller. Smiling recklessly at someone can even make them look like they've said some nonsense or have their fly open.

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