Throughout the Russian culture, there are numerous traditions and superstitions to explore. Some may sound quite similar to those you are already aware of. In this article, you will encounter superstitions that deal with flowers, as well as the infamous black cat.
When it comes to the topic of Russian superstitions, there is a fine line between what is considered to be a superstition compared to what is actually a tradition or custom. It is not uncommon to confuse the two when encountering a culture that is different from your own. Let’s take into consideration superstitions that deal with the meeting of a black cat, as in when it crosses your path. Some Russians believe that it is not the cat that crosses your path that is bad luck, but if you are the first to cross the path that was “marked” by the cat brings unfortunate consequences.
Sometimes the smallest things in life can cause offence. It is considered rude to present a woman with an even number of flowers. This is a tradition that can be seen throughout Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, as well. The number of flowers should be an odd number, making the common gift of a dozen roses a thing of the past. An even amount of flowers is reserved for those attending a funeral. For example, if one was in Moscow and purchased four carnations, sometimes they may be asked if they are going to a funeral. There have been tales of flower vendors refusing to sell a dozen roses to a foreigner who wishes to bring them to an occasion, such as a birthday get-together.
If you are ever traveling to Russia, you should familiarize yourself with some of the traditions that are followed that you regard as a superstition from where you are coming from. If you want to seem like a polite visitor, it is wise to gain a deeper understanding of the culture. For example, it is considered quite rude to whistle while indoors. You may feel a few stares, not to mention, it is believed you will also soon lose a large amount of money soon after.
It is looked down upon to shake hands across a threshold, meaning you should make the extra effort to step forward and shake hands, as well as hand something to another. This is regular practice when you are in different rooms. When you are celebrating a birthday, it is tradition to celebrate it on the day or after, but it is considered bad luck to party before the day arrives. This can be seen when a birthday falls on a workday or in the middle of the week. Weekend partying should be reserved for after the date, not before.
A moment of silence is suggested for household members when anyone is leaving for a long period of time, such as a couple of days. When giving gifts, it is considered unacceptable to give someone a sharp item, such as a knife or scissors. Some feel this is also a sort of violation. When an animal is given as a gift, like a puppy or bird, monetary thanks should be given. In Russia, a ruble is acceptable. When at a funeral banquet, you will be in extreme deep water if you refuse a drink of vodka that is offered to you. Before shaking hands, you should remove gloves.