Lifestyle and Culture in Russia
Russia has an international reputation which originates from the Soviet era. Due to modernisation, following the end of the USSR, the Russian population has managed to Westernise itself quite rapidly. In fact, the advent of technology, mass consumption, as well as female empowerment has enabled the country to develop into a very lively society over the years, although traditions are still part of Russians' everyday life. The country has a rich historical and cultural heritage which is cautiously preserved by its people and worthy experiencing.
Russia has historically had certain stereotypical aspects assigned to it by foreigners. In fact, people tend to believe that most Russians are communist, only drink Vodka, eat spoonfuls of caviar and are bundled up all year round in fur coats with fur hats on their heads. Well so much can be said but Russia is an outstandingly great nation offering massive multi-culture. In Russia, you do not throw your glass over your shoulder once it is empty and you do not kiss your host or hostess on the lips. This tradition is only reserved for special occasions. Hence, these perceptions are real to some extent.
The fact is that the Russian population has undergone a vast Westernisation process over the past couple of decades. As a consequence, more and more Russians are adopting Western norms, and prefer to drink wine instead of vodka and bring exotic fruits and chocolates to their host instead of caviar. Russian women get married at a quite young age and dedicate the rest of their lives to their children's education and their homes. Elderly people (especially women) often stay with their children and help with their grandchildren's education. Moreover, Russians have a great sense of hospitality. They are very welcoming towards their friends and relatives, whether or not they are closely related. You are more likely to find several generations of the same family living under the same roof in Russia than you might in other parts of Europe.
It is better to be aware of Russian customs and beliefs before travelling there. For instance, shaking hands, talking with someone or accepting a present from someone over a threshold is deemed to be a bad omen. Moreover, cleanliness is considered to be a sign of respect, so you will likely be expected to take off your shoes while entering a Russian house to put on slippers. Every Russian host has a spare pair of slippers to offer their visitors. Also, consider buying a gift if you are invited over for lunch or dinner by a Russian family. If you prefer buying a flower bouquet, make sure to take an odd number of flowers as flowers in even numbers are used for funerals.