The cultural history of Russia is rich. The origins of Russia can be dated back to the 9th century with the establishment of the first Eastern European state, Kievan Rus. The lands became populated by the Slavs and Vikings. It was influenced by the Greeks and invaded by the Mongols. The land was governed by powerful rulers and went through many revolutions. All of these influences made Russia and other Eastern European countries the way that it is today.
Russia has the most land of any country, totaling over 6.5 million square miles. 2016 data from The World Bank suggests that the country has a population of more than 144 million people and holds over 190 ethnic groups.
Don’t underestimate the culture of people in Russia. It is a huge country that serves many people with different backgrounds. Respect that people have different traditions and beliefs that you might not expect.
The official language of Russia is Russian but, “there are over 100 other languages spoken in this country” (BBC). English is a common second language for Russians. Less common languages such as Dolgang, Tartar, and others are prominent in regional areas.
Religion is commonly practiced in Russia. There are over 5,000 registered religions in Russia, though according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Russian Orthodox is the largest practiced religion with more than half of the population proclaiming this religion. Islam is the second largest religion and Tengrism is the third.
Russian women are generally traditional and family oriented. They tend to get married very young. It is not uncommon for Russian women to marry an older man. Relationships with younger men are looked down upon in Russian culture and are perceived as desperate. Older men are seen as more responsible, both financially and mentally. Women are trained from childhood to aspire for a family unit and have children while they are “young and fertile.” This is why many pursue marriage at an early age. Cultural expectations are for women to serve their men and take care of their children.
You may meet a lot of people with different backgrounds, but here are some general etiquette tips to keep up with:
- If invited to someone’s home, always bring the hostess a small gift. Men are expected to bring flowers (never yellow flowers though).
- Do not begin eating until the host gives the instruction.
- Do not leave yourself from a table until you are excused by the host.
- Physical contact is common, even between the same sex.
- Always arrive on time.
- Drinking is an “all or nothing affair.”
Chivalry is common and expected in Russia. You should be opening the door for women, making sure that they get home safely, carry heavy items, help off of a high platform, etc. Chivalry is an expectation in Russia. Russian women are devoted to their men, so you can expect someone who is loyal and respectful at all times. Because Russian women are generally family oriented, look for long-term relationships that will lead to marriage. In Russia, the custom tends to be about 1 year of dating before getting married.
Russia is a huge place and though it’s people are diverse in language, religion, and ethnic background, the traditions are upheld to the fullest. If you plan to date Russian women, you must familiarize yourself with her culture so that there are no misunderstandings between you and the Russian woman you want.