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Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia

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Defender of the Fatherland Day is a Russian holiday on February 23 and focuses on the achievements of military forces and veterans.

What do people do?

Many Russians observe February 23 as men’s day because military service is obligatory for most men in Russia. Women often give presents and postcards to their male relatives, including those who never served in the military. On a workday before or after the holiday, many women also congratulate their male colleagues and schoolboys may receive small presents from their female classmates.

Russian authorities may organize local parades to honor the military and veterans on this day. It is becoming more common for women who serve in the military to be honored on this day, and this challenges the traditionally masculine aspect of the holiday.

Public life

Defender of the Fatherland Day, which is on February 23, is a public holiday throughout the Russian Federation. Most schools, banks and official buildings are closed on this day. Public transport services may vary in cities that hold a parade.

Background

The reasons behind celebrating Defender of the Fatherland Day on February 23 are unclear, as the date does not coincide with any historical event. Russia first celebrated this day in 1922 as the fourth anniversary of the Red Army. However, Russian leader Vladimir Lenin signed a decree for the creation of a Bolshevik Army on a different date (January 15, 1918). In 1938, Soviet history books started claiming that the Red Army won an important victory over German invaders on February 23, 1918, but no independent sources supported this claim. The Russian Parliament voted to remove it from the holiday’s history in 2006.

Between 1936 and 1990, February 23 was observed as the Soviet Army and Navy Day. It became a workday in 1991. The Russian parliament reintroduced it as a public holiday in 2002, after renaming it as Defender of the Fatherland Day.

Symbols

Common symbols of Defender of the Fatherland Day are a soldier and the Russian flag. These symbols often appear on postcards and congratulatory banners in Russian cities on this day.

Source: Time and Date

Valentine’s day in Russia

love-heart-valentines-valentines-day-redRussians celebrate Valentine’s Day with high spirit and vigor. People exchange greeting cards with love messages on this day of love. It is believed that greeting cards are the expressions of love. Russian youngsters use to write their own romantic lines on the cards to impress their valentine. Roses, chocolates, candies and cards are believed to be the most popular gifts for the romantic occasion. Russia is celebrating the Valentine’s Day with the same spirit with which they celebrate their traditional festivals.

The day of love is getting very popular in Russia in the last decades. Valentine’s Day is getting much commercialized in Russia, from the past decade. Some gift shops in Russia use to paint themselves with the festive look of Valentine’s Day long before the arrival of the real Valentine’s event. Gift basket is a common practice between lovers in Russia on Valentine’s Day. Russian Young men gifts flower bouquets, rings, perfumes, chocolate candies and gift baskets to their sweethearts. Nowadays, teenagers are very much fascinated by the popular media’s projection of Valentine’s gifts and they enjoy the day with new ideas such as photo story albums, musical CDs, DVDs, High-Fi mobile phones.

Russia being one of the most developed countries, urban people are very familiar with the electronic media and its possibilities. So people from different cities the valentine greetings with e-cards and gifts which available through online Valentine’s Day shopping sites. Valentine’s Day dinner and dance parties take place in Russian cities to celebrate the expression of love. Most of these parties are arranged by the youngsters who want to explore the spirit of their youth. Restaurant and pubs get prepared for the Valentine’s Day with finely tuned cocktails and live music. Russia celebrates the Valentine’s Day with true spirit of Valentine’s day but they never get into the insanity of celebration because most of Russian villages think of Valentine’s day as a foreign festival.

Source: Everything Valentines Day

Christmas traditions in Russia

christmas-bokeh-lightsChristmas in Russia is most widely celebrated on January 7, according to the Russian Orthodox calendar. New Year’s Day, January 1, precedes the Russian Christmas and is often celebrated as a more important holiday. It is not uncommon for Russians to observe two Christmases and even two New Year’s—the first Christmas observed on December 25th, and the second New Year’s observed on January 14th. Any public trees, like the Christmas tree in Moscow’s Red Square, also serve as a symbol of the New Year.

Russian Christmas Religious Observances

During much of the 20th century as a Communist, atheist country, Christmas was not able to be publicly celebrated. Currently, many Russians continue to identify themselves as atheists, so the religious observance of Christmas had faded out of fashion. Increasingly, since the fall of Communism, Russians are returning to religion, primarily Russian Orthodoxy. The number of people celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday continues to grow.

Some Orthodox Christian Christmas traditions mimic those traditions in other parts of Eastern Europe. For example, a white tablecloth and hay remind Christmas Eve diners of Christ’s manger. As in Poland, a meatless meal may be prepared for Christmas Eve, which is eaten only after the appearance of the first star in the sky.

A Christmas church service, which happens the night of Christmas Eve, is attended by members of the Orthodox church.

Even the President of Russia has begun attending these solemn, beautiful services in Moscow.

Christmas Foods

The Christmas Eve meal is typically meatless and may be made up of twelve dishes to represent the twelve apostles. Lenten bread, dipped in honey and garlic, is shared by all members of the family gathering.       

Kutya is a concoction of grains and poppy seeds sweetened with honey, which serves as one of the main dishes of the Christmas feast. Vegetarian-style borsch or solyanka, a salty stew, may also be served along with salads, sauerkraut, dried fruit, potatoes, and beans.

The Christmas day meal may feature a main course of pork, goose, or other meat dish and will be accompanied by a variety of side dishes such as aspic, stuffed pies, and desserts in various forms.

The Russian Santa Claus

The Russian Santa Claus is named Ded Moroz, or Father Frost. Accompanied by Snegurochka, the snow maiden, he brings presents to children to place under the New Year’s tree. He carries a staff, wears valenki , or felt boots, and is carried across Russia in a troika, or a vehicle led by three horses,instead of a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Russian Christmastide

Svyatki, which is Russian Christmastide, follows the celebration of Christmas and lasts until January 19, the day Epiphany is celebrated. This two-week period is closely associated with pagan traditions of fortune telling and caroling.

Source: TripSavvy

13 amazing online dating statistics and facts

woman-typing-writing-macbook-notebook-computerToday, there are millions of people on thousands of dating sites looking for their perfect match, whether that’s for a date, relationship, or marriage. With this growing industry comes a lot of information that’s worth knowing. Here is a list of 13 good, bad, and just plain weird statistics on online dating that will blow your mind.

1. 49 million people have tried online dating

With about 49 million singles having dabbled in online dating at least once, a majority of us are probably among that statistic or know somebody who is. As is typical with most new inventions, some were skeptical when dating sites first came out, but they’ve clearly become one of the preferred ways to find love.

2. Online dating is a good way to meet others, say 59% of people

In 2015, the Pew Research Center found over half of men and women believe online dating is a great venue for meeting people. And we’d have to agree — you have tons of options to choose from and can cater the process to your wants.

3. 66% of users have dated someone they met online

Not only is online dating extremely popular, as evidenced by the stats above, but it also truly works. That same Pew Research Center study said two-thirds of online daters have gone out with someone with whom they were matched. Those seem like pretty decent odds to us.

4. One-fifth of committed relationships began online

If a serious relationship is what you’re looking for, you might want to turn to online dating to find it. Statistic Brain says 20% of current committed relationships started online.

5. 17% of marriages started online

Statistic Brain’s research also shows 17% of couples who married within the last year met on a dating website.

With online dating, you get very specific about your needs (e.g., marriage), which makes it quick and simple to find that special someone who can meet those needs.

6. Lion’s share (27%) of online daters are 18-24

According to Pew, those between 18 and 24 make up the largest demographic of online daters in terms of age. In comparison, 22% are 25 to 34; 21% are 35 to 44; 13% are 45 to 54; 12% are 55 to 64, and 3% are 65+.

7. The online dating gender ratio is 52.4% male vs. 47.6% female

While numerous dating sites lean slightly more female with their gender ratio (e.g., Match 51% vs. 49%), online dating tends to attract more males as a whole: 52.4% compared to 47.6%. This was another fact discovered by Statistic Brain.

8. What’s more important? 64% say shared interest, 49% say looks

Referencing Statistic Brain again, the site found almost two-thirds of people who use online dating say the number one thing they’re looking for in a date or partner is common interests, while less than half say physical characteristics are the most important to them.

9. 22% of people have asked someone to help with their profile

Your profile is the first thing singles will see on a dating site, and to be honest, most of them will only take a few seconds to read it and determine if you’re right for them or not. That puts a lot of pressure on people to make their profiles perfect, especially those who are trying online dating for the first time and aren’t the best writers. So it’s understandable that almost one-fourth of online daters have asked someone to give them a hand with this part of the process such as choosing the best photos or tweaking some of the language.

10. 23% of people think those who use online dating are desperate

We mentioned earlier that 59% of people think online dating is a fantastic way to meet others, but there are some skeptics out there. According to Pew’s poll, 23% think those who date online are desperate. However, that number has gone down a good bit. In 2005, it was 29%, so more people are starting to look at online dating in a positive light.

11. More than half lie on their dating profile

Singles want to put their best foot forward online — some so much so that some of them won’t be as forthcoming about themselves as they should be. Phactual.com says more than half of users fabricate some or all of their dating profile. For example, 20% of women will use photos from when they were younger, while 40% of men will lie about their jobs.

12. 48% of online relationships end via email

There are a lot of online dating success statistics out there, but you’re bound to come across some bad ones every now and then. One of them is from an infographic by eHarmony that shows 48% of relationships that began online will end with someone breaking up with their partner via email.

13. 10% of online daters quit after three months

While we love online dating and think it’s one of the best inventions to come out of the 20th century, we’ll admit that it can be frustrating for some people from time to time — especially if they’ve been doing it for weeks or months and haven’t met that perfect person yet. In fact, one out of every 10 online daters will give up after 90 days, as reported by Statistic Brain.

Source: DatingAdvice

Use humour to become more successful in online dating

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If you ask someone to list the characteristics they require in a potential dating partner, it is likely that they would say they want someone with a good sense of humour.  Humour may be especially important in online interactions because after the initial impression given by a person’s profile picture, it is what a person says and how they describe themselves which takes over and becomes more salient.  

Humour puts people in a good and positive mood.  In an initial encounter with someone, our mood is a crucial factor in determining attraction.  If we experience positive feelings, this subsequently leads to a positive evaluation of the other person.

In a study by Bressler, Martin & Balshine participants were asked to think of the following.  Imagine a situation where you are choosing between two potential dating partners. They are equally physically attractive, intelligent, interesting, friendly and compassionate.  The only difference between them is in the following.

  • One is great at making you laugh and you think they are very funny. However, they don’t laugh all that much when you make jokes.  They listen to you, but when you make jokes you rarely get more than a smile from them.  
  • The other laughs at all your jokes and think you are a very funny person, but you don’t find their jokes very funny.  You understand their jokes and don’t find them offensive, but they rarely make you laugh.

Bressler et al reported that males prefer females who are receptive to their humour and laugh at their jokes, whereas females value humour production in a relationship partner!

Females in relationships with more humorous partners rated them as being more creative and intelligent, and also as being more popular and better leaders. Males who construct humorous profiles and engage in online messaging using humour might attract more females. 

Having a good sense of humour suggests that we can interact easily with others and that we possess a relaxed and fun-loving personality, all of which make us more attractive.

Source: Psychology Today

March 8: International Women’s Day

flowers-flowers-bouquet-springingMarch 8th is nearly here! Do you have big celebration plans yet? If not, it’s time to think about how you would like to surprise your favorite women: Moms, sisters, wives, daughters, girlfriends, co-workers. If you didn’t know yet, March 8th is the International Women’s Day and it is widely celebrated in Russian speaking countries.

History of the International Women’s Day

Interestingly, the holiday originated in New York in 1908 when women went on a strike to demand equal rights, voting rights, shorter hours and better pay.

In Russia International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1913 first time as a part of the peace movement on the eve of World War I. Soon, following the events of 1913, it was established that the International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8th.

How is International Women’s Day celebrated in Russia today?

Today, International Women’s Day is one of the favorite public holidays in Russia. This day is associated with the first days of spring, warmth, first sunny rays and the most wonderful emotions. On March 8th men and women express their love and care to the women in their lives.

When it comes to gifts, it’s more about the gesture. It is not a secret, that women like attention, and even a small thing like a card, flowers and a box of chocolates will put a smile on your lady’s face. And of course, it also depends on how well you know each other: whether you are coworkers, relatives, are dating and so on. Now, let’s skip to the fun stuff – a few words and expressions in Russian that you might need when celebrating the International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day in Russia vocabulary

С 8 Марта – Happy March 8th

Поздравляю с 8 Марта - Wishing you a Happy March 8th

Поздравляю с Международным Женским Днём! – Wishing you a happy International Women’s Day!

Source: Fun Russian

Valentine’s Day celebration in Russia and Ukraine

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Valentine’s Day is coming up! Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine.” In Russia and Ukraine Valentine’s Day is a relatively new, but one of the most popular romantic holidays.

What Gifts are Popular in Russia and Ukraine on Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day in Russia and Ukraine is all about expressing your love and care to your significant other. This means that you can get as creative as you like when it comes to gifts. Any gift that conveys romantic feelings will be very well received. For example, a little memorable souvenir, such as a framed picture of you both having fun, or a poem written for your significant other will make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

Giving flowers is considered one of the most romantic gestures in Russia. Russian and Ukrainian women love flowers! A bunch of fresh roses, tulips, orchids or any other flowers will certainly bring a smile to her face. If your lady has a sweet tooth she will most definitely like a box of chocolates.

How Do Russians Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

There are no specific Russian/Ukrainian traditions associated with this holiday. Just remember to let your imagination go and make your celebration as romantic and as memorable as you like. Russians love romance. These are just a few suggestions to warm up your imagination:

• Enjoy a homemade candle lit dinner with a glass of good wine

• Cuddle up watching an old romantic movie (preferably in Russian – so you can practice your Russian language skills )

• Go for a romantic walk in the park, or a beach holding hands and sharing your childhood stories

• Reserve a table at a fancy restaurant and surprise your sweetheart

• Write romantic letters to each other

Valentine’s Day Was Banned in Belgorod

Unfortunately, not every city in Russia welcomes Valentine’s Day. Belgorod, a small city in western Russia banned Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago.

Grigory Bolotnov, a spokesman for the governor’s office, stated that celebrating Valentine’s Day is not a Russian tradition and it does not teach good moral values to Russian youth. Belgorod archbishop supported governor’s decision to cancel the holiday.

How to Wish Happy Valentine’s Day in Russian

It might be a great idea for you to wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to your Russian or Ukrainian woman. Here is how to write it in Russian:

С Днём Святого Валентина! [s DNYOM svya-TO-va va-lyen-TEE-na] Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day – only with your loved ones!

Source: Fun Russian

Online dating statistics and interesting facts

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Over the past few years, online dating has increasingly become a more widely accepted way of meeting a future partner and today, as many as one in five relationships are believed to begin online. You will probably be surprised to learn that:

  • Messages on a dating service that used words associated with laughing like ‘haha’ and ‘lol’ have a 17% higher chance of ending in an exchange of phone numbers.
  • You are 56% less likely to get a person’s number if you use the word ‘sorry’ in your opening line when you message someone on a dating service.
  • 61% of adults who have tried online dating agree that it is easier and more efficient than other ways of meeting people.
  • 31% of online daters agree that online dating keeps people from settling down, because they always have options for people to date.
  • 2 spelling errors in a man’s profile will reduce the chances of a response by 14% from a women. Spelling errors by women don’t affect their chances of getting a response.
  • Women receive 17 times as many messages as men on dating services.
  • Men use 21.9% more words than women do in their responses to questions about their dating profile.
  • 33% of online daters have never actually gone a date with someone they met through a dating service.
  • 20% of online daters have had someone for help with their dating profile. 5% of Americans who are in a marriage or committed relationship say they met their significant other online.
  • Generally on a dating service the most attractive men send the most messages.
  • Women are much less likely than men to initiate contact on a dating service.
  • Women are 2.5x more likely than a man to receive a response if they initiate contact.
  • Members of dating services who share photos of themselves laughing have over 3 times more chances of communicating with other members.
  • Your dating profile is judge in part based on the last profile the person saw before yours. If it is more attractive then yours will be considered more attractive.
  • People looking for long-term relationships tend to log into their dating service the most on Tuesdays at 2pm. For younger singles and those looking to hookup the best time to find them online is 9pm.
  • 33% of women and 20% of men retouch photos for their dating profile. Most do slight tweaking like removing blemishes, whiten teeth, and/or change skin tone.
  • 47% of men and 27% of women have encountered a first date who looked nothing like their dating profile image.

Source: Dating Sites Review

New Year’s traditions in Russia

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For many countries, the majority of winter holidays have passed, but this is not the case in Russia!  In fact, Russian New Year’s Eve trumps Christmas in importance, with major celebrations occurring all over the country in recognition of the holiday.

There are actually two New Year’s holidays celebrated in Russia.  The “New” New Year’s celebrations occur as most would expect, on December 31st and January 1st.

Russia’s “Old” New Year is celebrated on January 14th according to the Orthodox calendar. This celebration is the smaller of the two New Year’s holidays and Russians usually spend the day with family.

To celebrate this holiday, many Russians attend concerts or fireworks displays, with the largest located at the Red Square.  On December 31st, most families have a very late dinner including Russian salads, herring, and sparkling wine.  A short presidential address comes on TV at 11:55pm local time in each of Russia’s time zones, and the president reflects on achievements from the last year.  At midnight, the Kremlin Spasskaya Clock Tower chimes and the Russian national anthem begins.  Now is when the festivities really begin! Many Russians spend December 31st with family and only leave the house after midnight to see friends or enjoy New Year’s Eve parties and nightlife.

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The top 10 requirements for a stereotypical Russian New Year

Ded Moroz and Snegurochka

The West may have Santa Claus, but he can hardly compete with “Ded Moroz” (Grandfather Frost) or his granddaughter, “Snegurochka” (the Snow Maiden). Unlike Santa Claus, Ded Moroz is not afraid to show his face and often stops by holiday parties with Snegurochka to deliver presents in person. Ded Moroz maintains his residence near the town of Veliky Ustyug (in the Vologda Region); Snegurochka supposedly resides in Kostroma, on the Volga.

The “yolka”

Christmas trees were banned shortly after the revolution but were reintroduced as the novogodnaya yolka (New Year’s tree) in 1935 as a secular holiday symbol.  Trees tend to be small and are often made of plastic, but they are still symbolic and important gathering symbols for Russians.

Celebrities, Grandfather Frost and steam

Many countries have popular traditional holiday films, but few can match up with the song and steam of the Soviet classic, The Irony of Fate or Have a Nice Bath (1975). Zhenya is engaged and plans on spending his New Year’s Eve with his fiancée. However, he first must go to the sauna, as per tradition with his friends. They all get intoxicated and Zhenya ends up on a plane to Leningrad. He drunkenly tells a taxi driver to take him to Third Builder’s Street, where he lives in Moscow. Remarkably the building looks the same and his key fits. He passes out in the apartment and is awakened by the unsuspecting Nadya. They fall in love, and Russians still can’t get enough of this film. Television shows such as Goluboi Ogonyok (Little Blue Light), Pesnya Goda (Song of the Year; features most top-tier celebrities) and the children’s filmMorozko (Grandfather Frost) are additional holiday staples.

Salads

New Year’s just isn’t New Year’s without the salads. We’re not taking about light green salads either, but mayonnaise-infused and protein-thick works of art. Russians consume 2.5 kilograms of mayonnaise annually and nowhere is it celebrated more than on the holiday table. Olivier salad is usually made with mayonnaise, potatoes, carrots, pickles, green peas, eggs and chicken or bologna. New Year’s literally doesn’t exist if this salad is not on your table. Selyodka pod Shuboi, or “Herring under a Fur Coat” is a layered carnival filled with herring, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions and mayonnaise. The beets give the salad its purplish color.

Mandarin oranges

Supposedly this tradition began back in the reign of Nicholas II. However, it was discontinued for decades due to the Soviet Union’s difficulty in growing or importing them. It was revived around the 1970s and remains a staple on every Russian New Year’s table.

Champagne and caviar

Nothing said “proletarian” in the worker’s paradise more than champagne and caviar. While these items were in shorter supply during the Soviet period, it was then that they became part of the New Year’s tradition. The champagne is usually the “Sovietskoye” variety, available everywhere from Kamchatka to Brighton Beach. The caviar is usually red and served on buttered bread.

A midnight date with Putin

Regardless of their political affiliations, Russians around the world tune in to hear the Russian president offer his wishes for the upcoming year. Once he finishes, the clock tower on Red Square chimes, fireworks burst into the air and the New Year officially begins.

Not leaving the house until AFTER midnight to visit friends and walk around the city

For Russians, New Year’s is a family holiday and celebrations take place with close relatives on the evening of Dec. 31 with traditional toasts to say goodbye to the passing year. Phone calls are made to relatives that live far away. It is only after midnight that people begin the real partying. Many clubs only begin their main events at 00:30 or later.

Fireworks

As one person told me, it isn’t New Year’s if you don’t see the equivalent of a small country’s budget blown up in fireworks. The first New Year’s holiday I spent in Russia, in the industrial city of Tolyatti, involved hours of celebrating at home before going out after midnight with the whole family to see the citizenry declare war on the central square. The fireworks display was intense, loud and bright and is an integral part of any Russian New Year’s holiday.  

New Year’s Eve is just the beginning

Perhaps the best part about Russian New Year’s is that it’s not back to work the next day or even the day after. In 2015 Russians have until Jan. 12 before they have to report back to the office. That’s 11 days to shake off their hangovers.

 
Source: Russia beyond the headlines, Cultural awareness

7 perks of dating Russian girls

The main perks of dating a Russian girl are the same as the advantages of being in a relationship with a gorgeous model who treats you like a king. Who wouldn’t want to do it?

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7 perks of dating Russian girls:

  1. They love being in a relationship. The Russian culture gives a huge value to having a good relationship. For most women, this is the highest value before money, career, or even education. Being in a happy and loving relationship is like winning a lottery for Russian girls.
  2. They cook. Feeding her man is considered a woman’s obligation in Russia. Russians don’t believe in microwavable meals and women still cook for men from natural products. They actually enjoy it!
  3. Russian girls are stunning. Girls from Russia are crazy about their looks. They spend hours daily to look beautiful: skin, hair, makeup. They love wearing pretty dresses and high heels. The type of girls you could be dating look the same. Russian girls dress and look like models from the catwalk in daily life.
  4. They like being feminine. Everything you know about femininity, you will find in girls from the Russian Federation. They are warm and welcoming, gentle and sweet.
  5. They are devoted. Russian women are fully devoted to their partners. If you are dating a Russian girl, she is unlikely to dump you or leave you, because she dreams to become a wife and a mother, which has a very high value in their culture.
  6. They are direct. In their culture, people say what they think without much political correctness. Some people don’t feel comfortable with that but others find it extremely refreshing.
  7. They are resilient. Girls from the former USSR are used to more unstable life and don’t get upset easily. They are used to problem-solving, which is a great quality in a potential partner.

Source: Quora