What is this blog about

Mostly about St. Petersburg, the city I live in and the things that are interesting here.

Secondly, it's about Russian culture — and I mean this not in the stereotypical way. We all are tired of vodka, balalaika and other such fake things — you and me.

Thirdly, it's about myself.

The biggest sequences of posts that might interest you are pinned at these tags:
Other tags are on the right →

Thanks for coming!

Covid-19 chronicles: how local businesses survived

The owners of several St.Pete's bars were filming simple documentary series in the heat of April 2020. There are subtitles in English, all the series are on YouTube.

This is the first one:

Goodbye, Lenin! — a newsletter from Siberia

Zhenya, the author, lives in Tyumen.

He writes:

Why are you doing it?

Simply because there ain't so many media that would paint a right picture of what Russia is. There're few I recommend to stick with: Russia Beyond the HeadlinesCalvert JournalMeduza.
These media sources give more than just news about politics, Putin, homophobia, communism, KGB, bears, and cold. They're doing great. But only one of them—Russia Beyond's editorial office—is permanently located in Russia. The other two are abroad.
I believe, if you want to learn the country, its music, language and mentality, you should meet people from province.
Subscribe here.

She's in Russia podcast

If you like podcasts and audiobooks in general, maybe you'll like She's in Russia podcast.

The audios are here: https://soundcloud.com/shes-in-russia, texts: https://medium.com/shes-in-russia.

Website with all the links: http://shesinrussia.com.

Since late 2013, the US and Russia have been engaged in a state of tension and information warfare, sometimes referred to as Cold War II. The recent US-based intrigue and investigation into the relationship between Putin, Trump, and hacking have increased tensions to a fever pitch, most notably in the politics and media of the American Left. 

Cold War II represents and encourages some of humanity’s very worst tendencies - towards xenophobia, ignorance, falsity. On this podcast, two best friends -- one in St. Petersburg and the other in Brooklyn -- call each other and talk about US-Russian politics and/or culture in an attempt to push back against the caricature and sensationalism that dominate the current discussion in mainstream Politics and Media.

Railway, nyet and da

Anis Inrahim writes in her precious article for Panorama journal abour her trip in Russia:

I began dreaming about this trip in 2002 when I was still in legal practice. It was 10.30 pm on a Friday and I had a large corporate diary on my desk opened at a map of the world. Right at the top of the page was Russia, vast and irresistible. The map was bare, but I’d read about the Trans-Siberian Railway a year before and I knew about the railway track which ran across the country from Moscow to Vladivostok, a distance of 9,288 km.

Another invisible dotted line formed in my head, but this time from Irkutsk near Lake Baikal. It dived downwards into the steppes of Mongolia, stopped at Ulaanbaatar, and terminated in Beijing. This was the Trans-Mongolian Railway.

But why stop at Beijing? I thought. Why not take another train and another and another, until Kuala Lumpur? My heart leapt. Then the phone rang and it was back to work.

10 years passed and a host of things happened. I grew up, changed professions, and travel partners dropped out, but I never stopped thinking about those railway tracks.

Petropavlovskaya – Grass spot for hiding

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

As an introvert, I like to be alone for at least several hours a day.
During summer, I walk around my city a lot. There are many tourists everywhere in the center, so any quiet hiding spot is a valuable asset. I’m sharing one with you now.
Sometimes there are jazz festivals at this spot, but it doesn’t happens so often. During the week, one can sit at the canal and think their thoughts without any disturbing.
How to find this hiding spot? Come to the beautiful Hare Island from Gor’kovskaya subway station through the park (grab a drink at Bolshe Coffee on your way, nearest WC is at Burger King on your way). Reach the island by the bridge.
Then turn right (everyone either turns left to see the embankment of Neva with people sunbathing even in winter or heads through the Peter and Paul fortress (which, sadly, is a bit of a tourist trap).
When you turned right at the Hare Island (there is a tiny monument to the Hare near the bridge), sit on the border of this canal and relax. Oh, and bring a windbreaker or a coat to make sure that wing wouldn’t bother you. You can feed the ducks, also.
This spot is valid only during warm months (May-September).

Benois Buiding

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

I don’t think you’ll be coming here specifically to see this building, but if you are on the way to the Street Art Museum, take a look at this Benois, too. You can spot it from a bus or taxi window when your driver turns left from the embankment.
I have worked at this building from the time it was built and filled with offices, so I see it almost every day. It’s not your regular business center (though inside it looks quite regular) and it looks even more impressive in the night when all the pictures on the facade are lit.
The architectural bureau NPS Tchoban Voss have built Benois on the spot where the old plant had been previously demolished. It’s quite industrial, this city district. In 2008, Benois got the “best building” award from Made In Future magazine.
The building was named after Alexandre Benois, an artist and a designer for the Ballets Russes under Sergei Diaghilev. Benois participated with Igor Stravinsky and Michel Fokine in the creation of Petrushka (1911), to which he contributed much of the scenario as well as the stage sets and costumes.
Those Benois’ sketches for this Petrushka are all over the Benois building now. I think it’s beautiful.

Fedorov’s Cathedral – Metaphysical defensive wall

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

Back in the Tzarist times, every Jubilee provoked the creation of a new church (to say thank you to God for many, hopefully happy, years). For example, in 1910 in the name of the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov (the second and last imperial dynasty of the 20th century), the Fedorov’s cathedral was built in the center of the city. Emperor Nicholas II himself came to the opening.
Unfortunately, it was built a bit too close to the central railway station. To make the prayer’s mind clear from any disturbances, the architect had to cover the view towards the railway station with the charming and surprisingly red defensive wall which reminds me of the well-known Moscow Kremlin’s wall (which also has double-horned so-called “swallow tails” to make the silhouette so special and cute). Some sources say this appearance has been chosen for Muscovites to feel themselves almost at home.
Despite all the supposed defensive power of the wall, during Soviet times the cathedral was donated to a milk plant and its onion domes were demolished. Only twenty years ago the building was returned to the Orthodox church and was renewed thoroughly. And the wall is still standing and reminds us of the metaphysical defense which doesn’t always work in our physical world.
Fedorov’s cathedral is a 10-minute walk from the Moskovsky railway station.

Buck’s Building

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

A friend showed me into this building. That’s right, you can see not only its beautiful facade, but you also go inside and see all the stairs, stained glass windows, the passage, or the backyard, where the passage is even more pretty!

This building looked like a palace a hundred years ago. It was built as a renting house for Julian Buck, an engineer. In 2001 this building was added to the list of places that have historical value.

How you can see it all if you are not a tenant?
First, go to the arc to the left of the building, then go through it and take a right. You’ll see the backyard (that famous St.Pete “well-yard”).
Second, go back and wait till someone’s going out of one of the street entrances. There are several shops inside so people come and go a lot. If you take the right entrance, you’ll get to see the passage on the third floor. If you take the left one, you’ll see stairs and stained glass windows. Take pictures!

– see the full-size pictures of the insides in The Village article
– there is an active VK fan page managed by the tenants
– you can also stay in this building! There is a small hotel inside

Repina Street

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

I love the Vassilyevsky Island area. It’s so open to the wind in the sunny weather during weekends and has beautiful spots to explore and embankments to walk through on a sunny day. (Though it’s hard to live here on a daily basis because there is a lot of traffic and there are too many people trying to get into/from the subway stations during the peak hours.)
One of the interesting places to wander around here is Repina Street. It is non-touristic and you can easily dive into the atmosphere of quiet, non-pomp St. Petersburg where the everyday life goes on in the stone-paved streets. Come look into famous well-yards or just imagine ladies in hoop skirts and dandies with canes and top hats taking nice walks right here, in the silence of a time machine in our minds.
The width of the street is 5.6 m and it’s the narrowest named street in the city. Historically speaking, it once connected the street market (now there’s a garden with a fountain) and the French district where French and German citizens lived by the decree of Peter the Great.
Also, don’t forget to check out graffitis on the walls if street art is your soft spot (which mine is, definitely).

Saint-Germain garden

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

This beautiful and a bit abandoned garden is located between the buildings near the noisy and dusty street. At first, you do not even know if it is there because it’s part of the yard inside (see the picture). You can sneak through the gate, although it might seem that only people who are born in St.Pete can rest in such a closed place.
In fact, there are several stores and agencies in the buildings facing the garden, so people come and go all the time. Every couple of minutes someone opens the gate. Just wait for them, nod thankfully, hold the gate door and enter without worries.
This garden was rebuilt several times. Many famous people of the 19th and 20th centuries used to walk and chat here. Some even lived here, like Feodor Chaliapin or Anna Akhmatova - check out the article – she lived nearby as you might already know.
It’s funny to think that in the 19th century this place used to be a suburban area; right now it’s the most central you can get.
Saint-Germain garden was also called “Palais-Royal” and “Belvedere” by the locals – French names seemed to be so much more beautiful then.
There are a lot of cats here to greet. And some benches to sit and rest.

Fire-lookout Tower

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

As you probably know, Kolomna district has many buildings that could once be described as old yet are unnoticeable from a tourist point of view. I show these spots to my foreign friends when we walk together and I tell them the story. Now I’m doing the same for you.
This soft pink octahedral watchtower is one of the things you see walking down Sadovaya street. There are no real watchmen on top of it now, only a mannequin stands there, still showing he cares for the safety and watching the tranquility of the district like in the good old times. Can you believe that centuries ago a man could notice fires faster than a signal coming from the firemen house? Nowadays the fire brigade is called the boring way: by phone.
The building stands here, dating from the middle of the 19th century. Back then it was one of the dominant structures of the city (hard to believe now!). One could understand how many fire alarms there were in St. Petersburg in each moment by the black balls (lamps during the night) hanging on the 46-meter-tall tower. Now nearly nobody watches the tower, only me and the people I bring there.

Postal Workers’ Club

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

Once upon a time, when I was almost 16, I was coming back to St. Petersburg from Moscow, where I was born, for school holidays. One of my pen pals asked me if I wanted to join the party at the nightclub. Of course I did!
My acquaintances took me to the “Courier” disco bar. It was a weirdly painted, suffocating, small club on the top of the interesting grey building not far from Isaak Cathedral.
Then I graduated and moved to St. Petersburg for good. One day I walked through the city and got the feeling I remember this weird grey building. What’s the name on it… Postal Workers’ Club? It reminds me of… Yeah, that’s right! The “Courier” club could emerge only here. On my way home I started investigating.
The German Reformed Church was built in 1865, the red brick building in pseudo-Romanesque was home for the pastor and welcoming place for the community lived in St. Petersburg. But in 1940, the Soviet government decided to not only destroy the building but to use its walls to create the place for postal workers to hang out. Now it’s an amazing Constructivist building and I think it still holds some memories so the air around it is a little… I’d say unusual. Come feel it.

Central Post Office

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

Some people say all the building numbers on the streets of St. Petersburg are counted from this spot. Though it’s not true (since 1834 the numbers start from the rivers and canals – with few exceptions), the whole idea is beautiful, as well as the building the story is about.
Before the times of emails, I used to keep a lot of paper correspondence and post offices were my favorite venues – back in those days, I lived in Moscow and knew its central post office. I found myself inside the main city post office because I had spare time before the concert nearby. I loved the whole space, including the glass roof and huge, slim columns as well as the absence of the crowd.

You can easily come to this office not for buying anything (yet you may want to shop for some nice post stamps); rather watching the high ceilings and old interior which is a bit brushed… There are also some wooden benches to give your legs a rest after a walk through our big city.
And it works 24 hours a day! Miracle.


Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

My favorite subway stations in Moscow and St. Petersburg have the same name: Mayakovskaya. The great revolutionary poet, one of the first brilliant advertising copywriters in soviet Russia, the strong man and free soul Vladimir Mayakovsky deserves this honor.
In Moscow the subway station ceiling is covered with Alexander Deyneka’s soviet mosaics, connected with airplanes and happiness. In St. Petersburg the entire station is red, covered in mosaics and bright. I think I’ve been in love with this design since I was 6 and came to St. Petersburg with my mom for the first time.
Another nice piece of art is at the entrance to the station, it is a wall picture of the huge poet. Nice pictures could be taken here. He had a sense of humor, this poet.
The curious difference between Moscow and St. Pete’s subway stations is that people use different meeting points when they say “meet you at this metro station”. Be careful with this! In Moscow you are supposed to meet everyone at the station directly, preferably in the centre of the station hall between the trains. In St. Petersburg you must be at the top of the escalator instead.
The cause of this is that in St. Pete stations rarely have more than one way out and some people do not want to pay for a ticket to get to the meeting point, and in Moscow everyone arrives by metro and there are too many ways out you can easily get lost.

Radishcheva Street

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

Alexander Radishchev, whose surname was given to this street, was a writer and we Russians know him pretty well because of his ‘Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow’ book which we studied at school. I will not say this street is somehow related to the book but I really like its coziness and silence, especially on weekends. Someone will say Summer garden is a more appropriate place for nice Sunday walks but I do not agree. Do you need tourists on your way or beautiful 18/19th century buildings?
It unites two central spots: Vosstaniya square (Moskovsky railway station/subway station) and Chernyshevskaya subway station. One can easily walk through this street in about half an hour and the journey will be nice because there are a lot of beautiful buildings on both sides – and even this awesome Hermitage-looking green house in front of Radisheva street you see here on the picture.
Use your eyes. Welcome to the world of people who walk.

Last Address

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

Several years ago I noticed some heartbreaking and empathy-evoking stumbling stones in Berlin. That project was called “Stolpersteine” and it started in 1996 with 60 stones. Now there are more than 60,000 such stones all over the world because it went viral.
Russia has its own project about repressed people. It’s a hard topic but it’s needed to remember the past in order to not repeat it.
You might notice small memorial plaque in St.Pete, in Moscow or even in other countries (see the map on their website).
Every memorial plaque is dedicated to one person. It’s paid off the pocket of people who remember this person (donations), it’s positioned on the wall of the building where that person lived before the arrest.
The project is an initiative by Moscow and St.Petersburg historians, civic and civil rights activists, journalists, architects, designers, and writers. It is based on the law “on the exoneration of victims of political repression” adopted in Russia in 1991. The thought behind the process is to remember regular people, not only VIPs. (See more in the Wikipedia article.)
For example, this plaque is dedicated to a forester who was arrested and executed in 1938 and acquitted in 1958.
One name, one life, one sign.

Traction PowerSupply Station

Written for Spotted By Locals in Sp. Pete

This rare constructivist architectural piece (I decided not to put the whole building on the picture for you to discover it yourself fully) was to be torn down and converted into a hostel,  but citizens stood straight and now the power station is still standing.
Architects call this building “one of top 10 best constructivist buildings in Leningrad’s 20s-30s”. They even say that it looks a bit like a Kazimir Malevich piece (read more on that matter in Wikipedia in Russian).
This power station was built with than individual project and is fits so well (yet other building on the Fontanka embankment are nothing like this).
But the outside look is only one thing. The main interest is station’s historical impact.
This station is called also “Siege station”. As you probably know, there was a severe supply blockade ring around St. Pete (then Leningrad) during World War II. It gives me goosebumps to walk past this supply station because I understand again and again how hard it had been then when this station gave enough energy to support city trams in 1942. I feel so much gratitude so I decided to share this story with you.
I hadn’t read it anywhere before I stumbled upon this building on Fontanka river but I felt so much tension in the air near this station that I started digging the information and now I have this spot described for you.

Tips on Saint Petersburg's unknown and interesting places

I'm returning to be a spotter.

It means I am writing for the project called Spotted by Locals (yay!) as a person who knows some interesting spots in the city and is willing to give them away to an English-speaking audience.

Now there are about 40 of them.

Browse through all of my articles (or find them here under the 'spotter' tag).

Russia and the subject of social networks

Studying online, I try to engage as much as possible.

Right now I'm really into "Why we post" MOOC at FutureLearn (based on the same research as the "How the world changed social media" book).

So I try and write detailed comments as I go through course material. Why don't I share them here? The question of social media in Russia is not so widely discussed abroad. I can add my 2 cents.

VK.com, one of the main social networks in Russia

Social media platforms

There are some local platforms that surely get more attention from non-English-speaking people than Facebook.

Facebook in Russia is a place for those who speak English or have friends/family abroad or work at the media/IT or live in the biggest cities.

There are two other huge social networks: VK.com and odnoklassniki.ru ("VK" meaning "connecting" and "odnoklassniki" meaning "classmates").

Instagram and Facebook are also widely used.

Whatsapp and Viber are common ways to call for free which means a lot of people use them. Twitter is shrinking, Telegram is growing (it has an amazing broadcasting feature!).

Honestly I could connect with the same person in many ways online. Oftentimes I get a message via one network and answer via another. Thinking about messaging, I think in terms of people, not mediums or brands.

There are also many blogging websites that are also social media for me. Livejournal.com wasn't Russian originally but was bought several years ago and now is mainly occupied by Russian bloggers. There are also diary.ru, Tumblr and some more.

It's common when a person writes long posts at Livejournal website and shares the link to the new blog entry with friends via VK/facebook feed.

Social visibility

In Russia, people mainly try to show up online with the "prettiest" and the "most successful" things, looks and situations. I guess this happens because if you open up with vulnerability, there always are trolls that would have fun because of your situation. You cannot be safe in a public space sharing vulnerable issues so you rarely do.

The more likes you have, the more validated the thing you do becomes. A lot of posts happen because a person needs an outer validation (and I know it from my experience, too). You cannot just say "I'm lonely, please cheer me up". You'd rather post a smiling picture and collect likes for self-assurance (like Super Mario collects coins).

Sometimes when a person posts rarely, you understand there's some sadness and can ask in a direct message if everything is ok (but if you are not close, chances are you'd get "yes, thank you" answer).

If something really bad happens, people post it "under the lock" (within the few selected friends, not really public).

I was born in USSR

I was born in USSR.
I'm living in Russia.

I remember reading all the "pioneer is a friend of grandpa Lenin" propaganda children books. I've also read works of Tove Jansson, Pamela Travers, Astrid Lindgren, Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and many others.

I remember growing up without Internet or cell phones. Was it dull and boring? Yes. Was I able to read novels without a need to interrupt myself? Indeed.

I remember being afraid of everything because I entered school about Perestroyka. No future, no past, no fancy stuff, no dreams, no close friends. It was scary and upsetting, being a teenager at that time.

It gets more and more complicated every year. News are awful, people are scared, there is too much information and too little strength.

But you know what? The random acts of kindness, the small details that count, the ability to travel and to write, the warmness in strangers — these are the best things I open up in life, from the childhood and onwards.

Maybe the more complicated it gets, the more I value humanity and other emphatic stuff.

Christian Guémy (C215) in St. Pete

Yesterday I got a huge portion of inspiration.

It happened in Erarta, the museum of contemporary art, during the workshop of Christian Guémy. This Parisian street artist (on the right in the photo, the man in the stripes was translating) is famous because of his meaningful stencil projects all around the world.

He was speaking on means of creativity (I've written down the whole talk in Russian), on how being creative is much the same as when you are not just a cook, but a chef. French food metaphors, you know.

I've asked Christian about him being in St. Pete for the first time. He's already been to Moscow 4 times and disliked the violent atmosphere (he showed how the passengers of the subway are kicking each other with elbows).

He said St. Pete is way more civilized, european-like city (and I can't agree more as I moved here from Moscow 9 years ago with the same thoughts).

He named Wassily Kandisky as his fav Russian artist and promised to stencil him, too.

He did that several hours later near Erarta and published on the Facebook page:

He'd also done some other typical stencils in St. Petes before the workshop, themes being "peace/world" (in Russian it's the same word, 'mir'), "love", "cats" and "Virgin":

All pictures used are taken either from my instagram, or from Christian's.

You're not the real muscovite

— Those Muscovites! — my colleague spills the angry word.

I raise the eyebrow.

— Not you, — he corrects himself. — You're not the real muscovite. You're like us.

"Us" and "them", this everlasting confrontation in every Russian soul who have been born in USSR.

This time it’s about the cultural differences in two major cities. I’ve lived in both.

Moscow folk: uber-efficient, fast-responsive, overworking and loud in self-presentation.
The driver is excellence. And money, of course.

St.Pete folk: quiet, intelligent, thoughtful, snobbish, respectful, intellectual.
The driver is connection. Not the money. You can get along without high income here (never in Moscow).

I’m riding the city bus in St. Pete.

— Have you ever been to Moscow?

I turn off my pink iPod to enter the conversation. Ticket-collector lady is waiting for my answer.

— Yes, I did.

— They do not speak on the bus! Never.

— Maybe they don’t have time. They are always in hurry, — I offer the common reason.

She nods. I smile.

Could she guess I was born in Moscow? Probably not. I’m living here for nine years already.

St. Pete was built by the powerful man, Peter the Great (he also loved the titles, as any tzar should).

I mean, St. Pete was built by the people of his country. Peter ruled feverishly, installing new (European-like) rules and changing the whole game play.

He moved the capital from Moscow to St.Pete in 1712. He borrowed many ideas from the Netherlands. He was thinking strategically. He used a lot of human resources to build a city «on their bones» (as history books say). It was all the swampiness and nothing else here before Peter came.

He founded the city on the swamp, he named it after himself, he «cut the window to Europe», promoted secular education, he sent youngsters to study abroad, insisted on translating books and founded the modern newspaper. It’s amazing how good deeds go along with brutal, even butcher actions. You cannot like or dislike a power of this sort, you’re just amazed by it. It’s really impressive, how much have been done — and how many have suffered in the process.

Then he died. Even the most powerful ones are just humans in the end.

In 1728 the capital status was returned to Moscow alongside with all the government moving back (and many Peter’s initiatives sweeping under the rug).

What was that? A glimpse of the parallel universe, a star from the unknown future, a missed opportunity, a wrongful direction?

All that we are left with is St.Pete.

Italian-like (it was built in stone with Italian architects), breezy (wind lives here all the year round), grey and cold, romantic and intellectual city. The cultural capital. The Northern Venice. The city I now live in.

— I’ve been thinking and I still can’t get why do you live here, — a friend recently said to me. This conversation happens all the time but with different people.

— I cannot explain. I like it here. Moscow is so crowded, so hurried-up, so loud.

— But the weather… the winters are so long… the sky is dark...

— We call it «nine months of winter».

— The white nights in the summer are so disturbing! It’s impossible to sleep when there’s light outside!

— But then we have «dark days» in the winter if you miss the darkness. It’s daytime only from 12 noon to 3 pm.

— I don’t understand.

— I just love it.

Alcohol map of kitay-gorod

I've posted works of Katya Guschina in this blog earlier. Remember her Transsib drawings?

Now she went further:
this semester in my university had a special theme. we had to create a brand for moscow. my interest in maps and alcohol (dangerous) led me to this project. i knew from my friends that the kitay-gorod area is full of bars and restaurants, so the choice wasn't hard.

the map includes several types of information: from advices by experienced people and recommended places for visiting to phrases heard on the street and suitable drinks.

the naming "blue moscow" comes from the russian tradition to call a very drunk person "blue". that's why blue is the main colour there.

I made the guide in addition to the map. It has three routes: cheap, expensive and "get drunk fast" one. On the other side there is variety of benches where you could sleep until the underground opens.

have a light hangover!

More pictures on the project page: https://www.behance.net/gallery/32603043/alcohol-map-of-kitay-gorod

How to shoo away bad luck using wood. Russian superstitions

Russian superstitions are strange, funny, and though they are well documented, the topic remains a favorite for satire. The explanation is very simple: there are a lot — a lot — of superstitions in Russia. So many actually, that one cannot delve through all of them in just one go. If a black cat crosses your path, your day will be filled with bad luck. Don’t offer someone an even number of flowers. Well, that is unless said person happens to be dead.

We bring you another compilation of Russian superstitions and the one universal solution on how to shoo away bad luck using wood, saliva, and a mirror.


Here are a few recommendations to take you through the most important stages of life. For no other reason than this: growing up is hard and you will need all the help you can get!

On marriage

A bride should never wear open-toe shoes at her wedding because all of her blessings will leak through the slit.

On having children

No gifts before the baby is born. Women should not cut their hair throughout the pregnancy, but nobody really knows why. Finally, complimenting newborn babies may put them in the spotlight of evil forces. Don’t do it. No one wants to harm an innocent child!

On life and death

It bodes well for a wedding party to encounter a funeral procession. Indeed who can argue that for new things to bloom, old things must die.


Spider and Bird Droppings

Though a black cat crossing your path is a bad omen in Russia, animals can also turn your day around for the better. Spiders for instance, these multi-legged frightful creatures, are believed to bring good news. Similarly, the unfortunate experience of receiving bird droppings turns out to bring good luck. So here’s to always looking at the positive side of things!


The Pursuit of Happiness

In Russia, breaking plates, cups and glasses supposedly bodes well for the future and brings happiness. There is a common wedding tradition requiring newlyweds to throw their champagne flutes over their shoulders after emptying them. Indeed, what wouldn’t you do for love?

Fortune Cookie Cutlery

Russians are a hospitable bunch. This is why they use cutlery to predict who will be stopping by for tea. If you drop a tablespoon to the floor, expect a female visitor. If you drop a knife, expect a male guest. See that’s how easy it is to be a fortune teller.


Don’t Forget!

If you leave the house hastily and find that you must come back for something you forgot, a mirror will come in handy. Turning back on your steps is a bad omen in Russia. If you absolutely must however, take a few seconds to stare at your reflection in the mirror and you’ll be off the hook!


Friendships are Important

There’s a saying in Russia: “Better to have a hundred friends than a hundred Roubles”. Indeed friendships are important, and to protect these bonds from evil forces, certain rules must be followed.

How NOT to say goodbye

Don’t say goodbye while standing on both sides of the threshold of a doorway, it will lead to an argument. The same will happen if you break a handhold by going around a lamppost from both sides. However, if the worst comes to worst , the relationship can still be saved if both parties say “hello for a 100 years” right after!

Lastly, if you step on a friend’s foot, they have to step on yours as well to prevent an argument.

Salty Sweet

If you inadvertently pour salt on the floor while cooking, expect a quarrel. But since you were already in the kitchen, you can just pour some sugar over it and thus restore your karmic peace. Another alternative, just draw a cross in the scattered salt.



One should never go to an exam wearing new clothes. One may never wash their hair the day before an exam. This would risk washing away all accumulated knowledge.


This one is a favorite in the Peterhof dormitories of Saint Petersburg State University. At midnight, on the night preceding important exams, one must open the window and scream ‘Halyava pridi’ (‘Come thee freebie’). In this way they summon knowledge back to them.

Disclaimer: success not guaranteed!


Abba sings: “Money money money! Must be funny! In the rich man’s world”, but Russian folklore offers concrete advice on how to manage your finances.

No Whistling

Whistling at night will bring one financial troubles and bad luck in general.

Poverty Purses

When you give someone a purse, make sure there is a coin inside. Unless of course it’s an ill-intended gift and you wish endless poverty upon that person.

Million Dollar Baby

On the bright side, there are also ways to know whether being rich is in the cards for you at all. Unintentionally wearing your clothes backwards is directly linked to your financial prospects. Also, when someone you know sees right past you because of a new haircut, don’t take offense. It is actually great news because not being recognized by friends and family is also a sign of future riches.


Travelling is always a bit stressful. Packing, remembering your passport, and let’s face it, turbulence is scary! Russians have devised a verified technique to ensure that all goes smoothly on a long journey.

Sit Down!

After the hassle of packing is complete, right before you step outside and officially begin your trip, you must always — always — sit in silence for a few minutes. But don’t you worry too much if you forget to do it once or twice. Our colleague Valery, who almost never fails to accomplish the ritual says that you can still make it without doing this. Only it is never recommended to mess with in-flight safety!

Some of these superstitions are widely known and some were gathered interviewing people at random. Unfortunately, most are negative forebodings and perhaps that would explain why Russians are known to never smile. Who would want to smile when their day, friendships, nay, their whole lives are threatened on a daily basis?

But do not despair. We have uncovered a verified way to counter these evils. Olga, who studies International Affairs at SPBU knows a lot about superstitions. She believes in most of them and shared with us the “one universal solution” to turn one’s luck around when faced with misfortune. Either knock on wood to keep away from harm or spit three times over you left shoulder. ‘Better yet, do both, one can never be too sure!’

source: http://www.prospektmag.com/2015/11/friday13th/