Thirteen things that one can find only in Russia and nowhere else

Love for Motherland may not be unconditional. It is not easy for some people to love everything about their homeland. However, there are a few things that can melt the hearts of even die-hard cosmopolitans. There are many of such things in Russia that no other country.

1. Sitting down for a minute before going on a journey

An ancient national superstition says that if all members of a family sit down and keep quiet for a minute before traveling, the journey will be a success. At this particular moment, it may occur to someone in the family that they have forgotten their passports in a cabinet ad tickets in the bathroom.

2. Boiled condensed milk

Caramelized condensed milk can be found in foreign supermarkets too, in confectionary or baking departments. Yet, this product will taste and smell differently. In Russia, women traditionally buy tins of condensed milk to boil them for three hours in a saucepan. The sticky toffee is then used for cake fillings. At times, a tin of boiled condensed milk may explode when being opened: one needs to completely cool the tin before opening it.

3. "What? Where? When?" and KVN

There is a plentitude of television games and competitions on Russian TV, but only two of these games are originally Russian and no one else's. The scenarios of all other TV games and competitions arrived from foreign TV channels. Russia has only two original television games, but they still enjoy immense popularity among Russian TV viewers - they are called "What? Where? When?" and KVN.

4. Knocking on wood not to jinx oneself

There are plenty of evil spirits around us, who always destroy our dreams. As soon as they find out about someone's good intentions, they take every effort not to make those intentions materialize. Therefore, wise people, as soon as they say their wish out loud, knock on a wooden object to scare evil spirits off. Even the druids knew about this quality of wood. Most Russians still knock on wood, and this tradition is far from dying.

Also read: Dear foreigners, come to Russia to eat

5. Bath besom

A bath besom, or broom (venik) looks like a tool for torture rather than pleasure. This bundle of birch branches with dried leaves still appears as an original symbol of Russia, just like the French baguette. Many nations of the world have bath houses and saunas, but it is only Russia that has the bath broom.

6. Birch juice

One can find birch juice only in Russia. The whole thing about Russians' love for birth juice is probably about a gene that helps people enjoy the subtle flavor of sweetish plywood. Many Russians still have this taste memorized from their childhood.

7. Kvass

Kvass is a fermented beverage made from black or regular rye bread. Kvass is one of the most popular non-alcoholic summer beverages in Russia. Most Russians add kvass to the cold summer soup called okroshka - a mixture of chopped vegetables with sausage added into to as well. During hot summer days, Russians enjoy drinking kvass and eating okroshka for dinner.

8. Sunflower seeds

Russians love eating sunflower seeds as a snack. Some even get addicted to it. We do not know the origin of this tradition that must have appeared 200 years ago when sunflower was imported to Russia.

Also read: Russian sexual traditions

9. Old New Year

Europe switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar at the end of the XVI century. Russia did the same only at the beginning of the 20th century. However, the Orthodox Church strongly refused to take part in this blasphemy. The Orthodox world celebrates Christmas on January 7. The atheistic revolution deprived Russia of Christmas and made the main holiday of the year the New Year instead. All Christmas attributes, such as Christmas tree and decorations were preserved, but not the holiday per se. As a result, the majority of Russians still celebrate the New year as their main national holiday, whereas Christmas is purely a religious holiday. Three festive winter weeks (Catholic Christmas, New Year and Orthodox Christmas) lead to the sad holiday of the Old New Year. The holiday is celebrated as the start of the New Year by the Julian calendar, when TV channels air their New Year shows. This holiday bears an absurd name and marks the end of winter holidays in Russia.

10. Writing postal address conversely

What is more important - a person or a country? An individual or a society? Philosophers may rack their brains for years to find an answer to these questions, but the Russian Post had it solved years ago. A Russian starts writing one's postal address with the name of the country, followed by city, street, building and apartment number. The name of a person appears at the end. In all other countries, one first notifies postal services of the name of the person, who is supposed to receive a letter, parcel, etc. The recipient's actual address follows their name.

Also read: Christmas traditions in Russia live on

11. Dyeing Easter eggs in onions

To dye Easter eggs, many Russians traditionally boil them in onion skins. This tradition has its roots in poverty, when Russian peasants could not afford paints. Inventive Russians use a thread to wind it around eggs to create a striped ornament on the eggshell. It is worthy of note that eggs boiled in onion skins taste better. 

12. Buckwheat

The name 'buckwheat' or 'beech wheat' comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of the beech nut from the beech tree, and the fact that it is used like wheat. A century ago, the Russian Empire was the world leader in buckwheat production.[12] Growing areas in the Russian Empire were estimated at 6.5 million acres (2,600,000 ha), followed by those of France at 0.9 million acres (360,000 ha).[13] In 1970, the Soviet Union grew an estimated 4.5 million acres (1,800,000 ha) of buckwheat. It remains in 2014 a key cereal. Production in China expanded greatly during the 2000s, to rival Russia's output. It still remains one of the most popular crops that Russians on a regular basis.

13. Doors that open inward

The legend saying that doors in the USSR would open inward because it would be much more convenient for KGB agents to break doors open during arrests is only a legend. The mounting of doors is typical of northern regions. After a heavy snowfall, it is much easier to go outside, if the doors of your house open inward.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov