Culture - Russia has often been called "A
riddle wrapped in a mystery". Russian writers
over the centuries have tried to portray the essence
of Russians. There's virulent pride and humility,
cold-blooded cruelty or biblical kindness, opulent
wealth or frightening squalor. It seems like such
extreme differences could exist, but in Russia they
do. Pride is the one word that summarizes Russian
values. Although they may have their share of problems,
they are still proud of who they are as a people. They also love to dance in Moscow too.
Life has always been hard in Russia, and many consider
suffering to be a virtue. It's not that Russians
like to suffer, but they take pride in being tough.
Smiles are not often seen on the faces of Muscovites.
It's almost as if it's a cultural taboo to appear
happy. If things are going well for Russians, they
generally tend to keep their exuberance to themselves.
They believe that undue optimism may "jinx"
whatever good fortune they may be having in their
lives at the time.
Art and Literature are taken very
seriously in Russia. One of the ultimate insults in
Russia is to implicate that someone lacks culture.
There is a basic core of knowledge of certain names
and events that is expected of every educated person.
Those who fall short on the basics earn themselves
the reputation of being called a Nekultury. In the
eyes of the educated Muscovite there is hardly a lower
class of human beings on the face of the planet.
For the outsider, there is a myriad of rules and
regulations. There are many levels of belonging; neighbors
verses strangers, Muscovites verses
all other Russians, or Russians versus all others.
The most important group is one's informal network
of relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Friends
can open doors that few would dare knock on. Russians
don't know when and where they might call on their
friends, but they do know that by building relationships
they will not be left out in the cold in time of need.