Sunday, April 25, 2010

Russian Culture - Keeping Abreast with Times

Historians believe that Russia appeared in the 9th century. However, even before then the Slavic tribes lived on the territory of the modern Russian Federation and far beyond. The religious belief of the country was paganism.

The Russian culture is very distinct. Millions of people worldwide are captivated by its richness, cosmopolitism, and tolerance to other cultures. Russians have always been open to other nationalities and beliefs. The Russian language is similar to the culture and the nation itself – it is rich and adaptive. Mastering Russian does have a learning curve to it; yet, you can find some excellent Russian lessons that can help you dive into this unique language with little effort. The modern Russian lessons online (including the Russian free lessons online) can help you advance to any level you desire to achieve, whether it’s learning a few phrases or being able to read the Russian classics in original. In this article, we will talk about what makes this culture so unique and friendly.

Historians believe that Russia appeared in the 9th century. However, even before then the Slavic tribes lived on the territory of the modern Russian Federation and far beyond. The religious belief of the country was paganism – believing in multiple Gods (God of Sun, Water, Nature, Animal World, etc.). The cultural artifacts of those days include numerous architectural, literature and iconographic artifacts. A very popular form of art then was ancient sewing known as “needle painting”. The Slavic language of those days was first built on the Glagolitic and later the Cyrillic alphabet. The culture of the country consisted of verbal folk tales (bylinas), fairy tales, and songs praising peasant-warriors and describing the life of people. Many Russian bylinas and fairy tales of those days were adapted for modern animation films and movies. Some Russian poets made poetical interpretations thereof.

During the 9-13th centuries, the scattered tribes started to come together and unite under the Kievan Rus. Christianity that came to Russia in the 10th century blended with paganism. Christianity also brought writing into the country and further enriched its culture. In the 12th century, Kievan Rus was attacked by Tatars and Mongols. Kiev, Vladimir, Ryazan, Chernigov, and other major cities were destroyed. The Russian principalities started to pay an annual tribute to the Horde. As odd as it may sound, there were some cultural benefits to being mixed with another culture for 200 years. The Mongol-Tatar yoke enriched the Russian culture. Russians have studied the Asian mentality and learned new concepts, crafts, technologies, and words. They have also begun to overcome their fragmentation. After a crushing defeat in 1396, the Golden Horde was unable to recover. The power of the Horde over Russia faltered.

Next, Russia’s culture was changing and evolving under the reign of a number of unique rulers, such as Ivan IV, Peter I, Catherine II, and Alexander I, among others. Each ruler was unique; many of them helped Russia come closer to its numerous neighbors. Peter I (1672–1725) was the first to “open a window to the West”. He invited numerous Western scientists, architects, and artists to work in the country. He also ordered the translation of numerous prominent Western texts into Russian. Catherine II continued his efforts. This period created myriads of cultural artifacts, such as architectural, literature, and scientific.

The “window to Europe” closed shut during the days of the Soviet Union – 1922 to 1991, but the majority of the nation could not take the “iron curtain” for too long. The Soviet Union left a large cultural heritage. The country’s sports, arts, and science were on the rise, and served as the basis for the country to enter a new era.

As one can see, the uniqueness of the Russian culture comes from the fact that Russians have experienced all sorts of influences. They were developing as scattered tribes for thousands of years, they soaked in the invasion, and they were interacting with Europeans and Asians for several centuries after defeating the yoke. Countless thousands of Russian words originate from Turkic, Greek, Latin, French, and English. The well-known items that can represent Russia today include: Balalaika (musical instrument), Ushanka (hat), Matryoshka (doll), Garmoshka (musical instrument), Vodka (alcoholic beverage), Selyodka (herring), Kotlety (cutlets), Caviar, Borsch (soup), Russian salad, Vatrushka (sweet cake), Okroshka (salad with kvass), Valenki (shoes), and Samovar (teapot). Russians are a friendly multinational nation with a rich culture.

Today, the Russian “windows” are wide open to the views, beliefs, and cultures of the rest of the world. The uniqueness and friendliness of the Russian culture makes learning the Russian language extremely popular. Many people realize that the current turbulence in the country is a temporary setback, and that it makes sense to start building relationships with this nation now. Russian lessons are very popular, and Russian lessons online are the easiest to use. Moreover, the Internet has created many dedicated sites that offer Russian free lessons online, which make the most sense to take advantage of.

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