Russian Culture, Customs, and Traditions

Russian folk art and crafts at a market.
Russian folk art and crafts at a market.

The Russian state covers nearly about 6,612,100 square miles and is home to more than 144.5 million people. The culture of the Russian people developed over the nation's history that spans more than a millennium and was influenced by various cultures over the years including the Western European culture.

Food and Drink

Russian cooking incorporates influences from various international culinary traditions such as Eastern and Central Asian traditions and Siberian traditions. A variety of ingredients are used in Russian cuisine including pork, mushrooms, and honey. Soup and porridge are essential staples of the Russian cooking tradition with cabbage soup being the first course for most families regardless of their social standing. Alcohol is an integral part of Russian culture with the country being well renowned for producing high-quality vodka.

Arts and Literature

Russians express their artistic talents through a variety of mediums such as architecture and paintings. Byzantium architectural designs profoundly influenced how Russian architects designed their buildings until the fall of the Byzantine Empire. In the years following the collapse of the empire, new architectural styles such as the neoclassical style and Constructivism were the major influences for Russian architects. Russia has also produced some of the world's most famous painters, for example, Ivan Argunov who was famous for his portraits and Ivan Shishkin who was one of the leaders behind Russian Realism. The history of Russian literature can be traced back to the 10th century. Leo Tolstoy, Mikhail Lermontov, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky are some of the titans who have dominated Russian literature.

Music and Dance

Russians have always valued their musical traditions and have preserved some of their oldest musical instruments such as the Gusli which is more than 1,000 years old. Though Russia developed classical music late into its history, the genre has become one of the most distinct in the country. Some of the world's greatest classical musicians were Russian with notable examples being David Oistrakh and Anna Netrebko. Ballet is one of the most popular dance styles in Russia though initially, ballet was only for the amusement of the elite particularly under the reign of Empress Anna. In the 1740's Sergey Diaghilev, a central figure in the Russian ballet scene established the first ballet company. Russian ballet dancers are some of the most well-known in the world due to their extensive training mainly using the Vaganova method.

Sports and Leisure

The Russian people play a wide array of games both for recreation and professionally. Russia was particularly prosperous in the Olympic Games when it was part of the larger Soviet republic. Larisa Latynina was one of the most successful Soviet athletes and the country has won 18 medals half of which were gold. Russians have also dominated in chess with some of their standout players being Garry Kasparov and Evgeny Alekseev both of whom are international grandmasters. Russians have also dominated in ice hockey despite the game being introduced to the country in the Soviet era. In tennis, Russian-born Maria Sharapova has reached the pinnacle of the sport being ranked world number one on a couple of occasions.


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