What comes to mind when you think of Russian stereotypes?
If you are Russian, you might not even realise what stereotypes there are about you. Like all stereotypes, some might make you feel proud, but others can be quite annoying! Let’s lay them out on the table and see whether you are guilty of any of them.
1. Vodka for breakfast
The most frequent question Russians are asked is probably “How much vodka do you drink?” or any other joke related to this alcoholic beverage. However, it might be surprising to hear this drink is not even popular amongst young Russians. In fact, they quite often describe it as “disgusting”.
In fact, there is an even stronger ancient beverage known in Russia that’s been around since the 15th century – Samogon. It’s traditionally a homemade beverage produced mainly in the rural parts of Russia. In the Soviet period selling and producing it was strictly forbidden. Nowadays you need to go through many procedures and receive a license to make it for your own use.
In fairness to this stereotype, although we might not drink a lot of vodka, Russians are famous for drinking a lot. We even have movies about it like the ultra-famous The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! which you will always find on TV on New Years Eve!
2. Russians are crazy
Whether its drinking strong beverages or just having an adventurous spirit, Russians are famous for doing stuff that most people would never dare to. Whether it’s Russians swimming in holes cut in a frozen river (a “prorub”) when it’s -30℃ outside, or driving like we’re in “Fast and Furious” in an old “jiguli” that are fixed with only a hammer and obscenities. After all these activities you would probably expect Russians to sit in the armchair in a forest lodge, sipping samogon from a teacup while petting their pet bear. If only it were true! We would be very interested in meeting these people as well. It’s true that Russians like to challenge themselves but the average Russian would never even try any of these activities.
To be fair, the bear stereotype is a little bit true. We do have a famous domesticated pet bear in Russia.
So I guess some stereotypes are not so far from reality? 😉
3. Russia is as cold as winterfell all year round
Another common stereotype about Russians is that they live in extremely cold weather. Even if that is true for some parts of Russia, like Norilsk and Vorkuta, where the temperature could drop down to -53 °C and you can see the Northern Lights, not all of Russia is that cold.
Our country is huge and in it you can find a great variety of climates. In the South and Central part of Russia, you can experience the beauty of all 4 seasons with, for example, warm and dry summers (+25/30) and a cold dry winter (-15/25).
One of the most annoying comments us Russians get is “You shouldn’t feel cold, you come from Russia!”. But did you know that the Olympic Winter Games in 2014 were held in Sochi, a city in southern Russia, famous for being a beach resort? The russian government had to buy machines to make snow for the games.
4. Russians are all related to the mafia.
Russians have a stereotype of all being criminals or dangerous people, but that’s not fair! It’s true that in the 90s after the collapse of the USSR, criminal groups were able to grow and do whatever they wanted, including controlling the Russian economy. Nowadays Russians don’t want to have any trouble with the law and want safe lives for their families. If you want to know more about that period, I would recommend to watch the movie “Brother”
5. A nation without smiles.
One of the most common Russian stereotypes: we are known as serious and sometimes even grumpy people. This is a stereotype I heard a lot from other nationalities who like to exchange kisses every time they meet each other. Trust and personal space is quite a sensitive topic for us. For us, it’s strange to kiss people that we have just met and also it seems very time consuming when you have to say hello or goodbye to 10 people. Russians don’t have anything against kissing or hugging – they just prefer to save these for good friends and relatives. It is true that it can take a bit of time for Russians to feel open with someone new, but when it happens they will surround that person with a lot of love and food!
We hope you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to comment your thoughts below! Let us know what stereotypes you want to hear about next!