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Customs and traditions

What is unusual about Russians?

  • There are some topics and questions in Russia, like in any other country,you may or may not discuss.
  • You may be surprised by asking questions concerning your private life, relationships, dreams and so on. Often these questions display that a person has a sincere interest to you. Also such type of the conversation( discussing personal problems ) you can heard sometimes even between not quit known people (for example,standing in line or in train on the way to \’dacha\'(so russians call their country house)- in places, where people are united only for a period of time). So be calm and do not hesitate. Representatives of senior generation like to talk about problems with their health,be kind and attentive to them – it is also a part of culture.
  • ‘The left and right sides’ of the Russian mind have many interesting connotations for foreigner. Usually Russian people believe that the left side is associated with the sinister, bad secular. By contrast the right side for the most part has positive connotations such as brightness, good fortune and the sacred. Be careful saying to your girl ‘I go to the left’, in Russian it means to be unfaithful.
  • Never kiss your girl on her forehead. Kissing someone on their forehead is reserved for funerals. Kissing a loved one at the funeral reception is a tradition.
  • Now about special gift for your Russin girl. Flowers is the first thing you must give to her. Never buy even number of flowers for alive person. It’s a symbol of death and present of even number of flowers means – to bear ill will. You may buy red roses when you see her in person the very first time (custom meaning of red roses in Russia is love). Yellow flowers have custom meaning ‘unfaithfulness’, forget about yellow flowers for anybody.
  • Never forget about 8 March if your girl is Russian. It\’s an official ‘Womens Day’, the favourite day for all Russian women. On this day men give women gifts and flowers. Men also are supposed to do all the housework this day and women have a chance to forget about cooking,dishes and so on.
  • One more Russian tradition is to drink! The person who drinks and does not drunk is always respected.Many business deals are solved while drinking together.But Russians never drink without a reason. Every time they want to drink they bring up a reason.It can be anything from buying a new thing to celebrating a weekend .So, making a friendly visit take with you a bottle. If you go to a girl it is a good chance to show your attitude by buying something special (for example an expensive champagne).
  • If you get married in Russia it’s a tradition for the brides mother to hand you and your bride a loaf of bread at your wedding reception. Whoever can take the largest bite becomes the head of the household. Usually this is to the man’s advantage.
  • Don’t forget take off your shoes entering a house (residence). Russians do not wear shoes inside the home except for house shoes. Most Russians have several pair of guest shoes at their home for visitors. If they do not have enough extra house shoes for guests it’s normal to enter the room without shoes.

Customs and traditions

In the arrivals hall of the airport you will be requested to fill in a customs declaration form. Respecting the Russian customs is advisable, because breaking customs regulations may result in divestment of your belongings, plus you might have to pay fines measuring in 100 to 300 percent of their cost. If you have more than $1500 in cash, you should go through the red “to declare” channel and get your customs form stamped by a customs officer (especially if you are intending to leave Russia with a large amount of cash). If not, then you may proceed through the green channel. However, in any case be sure to keep your customs declaration form as you may be asked for it when leaving the country.

You can take along with you any personal belongings which you will be needing during your stay in St.Petersburg, for instance, clothes, objects of personal hygiene, travelling equipment, one videocamera and one photo camera, one tape-recorder etc. Besides personal belongings you may bring to St.Petersburg duty-free: foreign currency (unlimited, but prohibited to take out more than you have brought) diamonds: 0.5 karats, 5 items of jewelry, 5 litres of alcohol (if you are over 21 years old), 1,000 cigarettes (if you are over 16 years old), 3 items or 1 outfit of leather clothing, 2 carpets, 3 hats, one set or 3 crystal dishes, 20 litres of petrol, besides that in tank (if you are arriving in your own car), inexpensive souvenirs in reasonable amounts. On leaving, if you have less than $1500 you may progress through the green \’nothing to declare\’ channel. It is illegal to take more than $1500 out of the country without a special certificate.

You may take the following items out of St-Petersburg duty-free: 5 kg of fish, 280 g of black caviar, 280 g of red caviar, medicines (1 pack of each kind), Russian-made colour metal products: not more than 20 kg, gold or platinum jewelry: 5 items of total weight not more than 30 g, silver jewelry: 120 g, precious stone jewelry: 5 items, 20 litres of petrol, other than that in tank (if you are leaving in your own car). Prohibited to import: arms and ammunitions, narcotics, books, videofilms and other items which can inflict harm on Russia. Forbidden to export: weapons, narcotics, invalidated valuables, any Russian orders or medals, books, videofilms and other items which can inflict harm on any foreign state. If you are buying pictures or sculptures in a gallery, don’t forget to ask for a written permission from the author of the piece, in which it should be mentioned that he or she does not object to you taking this masterpiece outside the country.


Bussines people dress conservatively with good shoes. Men should not take off their jackets without asking. Dress casually for dinner in somebody’s home. In cold weather wear hat or old ladies will lecture you on your foolishness:-).In Russian Orthodox Churches women should wear a skirt and cover their heads with a scarf or a hat.Men should bare their heads.


A main meal in Russia usually consists of soup, a main meat/fish dish, sometimes vegetable salad. One of the most favourite food in Russia is salted herrings covered by beet root with mayonnaise (we name it ‘selyodka pod shuboy’-herring under fair coat 🙂 Russians drink a lot of tea, usually often with no milk but with sugar, sometimes lemon. It is customary to have something sweet with tea, such as biscuits, cake, jam (eaten by the spoonful!) or sweets. Lately you can meet in Russia many people who prefer coffee (especially black coffee) to tea,many coffee addicts.

There are vegetarians in Russia. Not too many, probably though. Being one is not hard: your environment will be tolerant to your choices.

Eating out in Russia can cost a lot of money if you choose to eat in the centre of a city in Western style restaurants. Check out the prices first. There are however many other places to eat although these are best found with someone who knows their way around and the language.

Healthcare in Russia

If you have stomach problems or have caught a cold, you won’t have great difficulties buying medicine to treat them while in Russia. A pack of 10 tablets against stomach ache or cold (provided being Russian made) should not cost you more than 20-40 Roubbles.

If you have more serious problems, it is wise to know somebody, who is Russian and who can take you to a doctor, the one he or she knows, who in one’s turn will assist you for either free of a token of payment. No insurance helps much in Russia, strictly speaking.

Religion in Russia

The Russian society is generally tolerant towards various religions. Buddists, Christians, Muslims, Jews – all of them practice their religions freely and very often live just across the street. When in Russia, one most of the time has the feeling of a wide acceptance of other’s values and should not worry too much if he or she will not be properly understood from the values and perceptions point of view.

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