- Posted by: Tatiana Klimova
- Category: Interesting Russia
Stereotypes related to Russians and alcohol
For a long time, Russia had been worldwide considered as a drinking country. Russian drinking traditions are imagined as a mysterious ritual. Foreigners think that going through this ritual will reveal the mysteries not only of Russian soul, but of the meaning of life itself. More and more Russians don’t appreciate this attitude. Let’s clarify the stereotypes related to Russians and alcohol with Tatiana Klimova from Russian Podcast.
1. People still drink a lot in the countryside, alcoholism remains a great problem. However, Russian middle class hardly ever touches vodka. Once I happened to work as an interpreter on a Franco-Russian wedding. The French side bought lots of vodka, because they wanted to please and surprise their future relatives. And yet, none of the Russians present at the party ever touched any shot, they clearly preferred French wine. On the opposite, French guests enjoyed their vodka very much.
2. In Europe it’s considered normal to have a glass of wine at lunch or for dinner. In Russia, European traditions are becoming more and more popular and even fashionable. Nevertheless, there are very few people drinking wine on the daily basis. Wine is for celebrations, for dear guests, not for everyday life. Many people, especially men, don’t drink at all out of principle. If somebody tells you they don’t drink, don’t try to persuade them, just accept their convictions.
3. Russians don’t break their glasses each time they drink alcohol. This glass and dish-breaking tradition now only remains for big traditional parties. But if you happen to break a dish by accident, you might hear: “It brings luck”.
4. Russia still has an important toast tradition. A toast can last a while when said during a celebration. In everyday life, for example, when having guests over, a toast is usually quite short: To the guests, to your arrival, to everything to be fine, or just to us. Foreigners very often make the mistake of saying Na zdorovie. In a toast context, this phrase doesn’t mean anything. Na zdorovie actually means you are welcome. Za zdorovie doesn’t sound right either. It’s better to say: Za vashe zdorovie.
5. Many foreigners (especially businessmen) think that the only way to make Russians respect you is to drink great amounts of alcohol. Well, something like that existed in the 90s, but today the image of a successful businessman or businesswoman has changed completely. A successful businessperson must be able to control themselves without losing their face. The same thing is true for the family circle. Drinking a lot of alcohol isn’t difficult, but you have to know how to remain sober and not to end up under the table. Don’t forget to have some zakuskis, to eat while you are drinking!