Every year, Russia celebrates many holidays праздники, some of which are also celebrated in the United States. New Year's «Новый год» is a universal holiday that is celebrated all over the world. Unlike in America, Russians usually buy Christmas trees on December 29th or 30th and will decorate them with all kinds of beautiful ornaments. The tree will be left until January 7th which is the day that Russian people celebrate Christmas «Рождество Христово». On March 8th is International Women’s Day «Международный женский день» when men all over Russia buy gifts such as flowers and candy for women that they love. (Тhis could be wives, girlfriends, fiancéеs, or daughters). Every year on International Women’s Day my father buys roses for me, my sister, and my mom, and we say «Kак приятно! Ты купил нам розы!» “How nice! You bought us roses!” My crazy ex-boyfriend could have learned a thing or two from my dad.
Another important holiday in Russia is Victory Day «День победы». This is a day when people celebrate the USSR victory over Germany in WW2 while also remembering the soldiers that died during those four bloody years. Following Victory Day is April Fool's Day «День смеха» on April 1st. Once, my sister tricked me by placing sugar in the salt shaker and salt in the sugar container. I was mad at first but then began laughing. Троица Whitsuntide on June 15th is another important Russian holiday. This holiday celebrates the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is traditional for people to bring plants into the home on that day. Some families will even sprinkle grass around the home and many churces do the same. Finally, Easter Пасха is the greatest church holiday in Russia. Many people visit a church or monastery on that day and bake a special Easter bread, which is also called пасха, just like the holiday itself. The Easter bread along with a small container of water is taken to church and made holy during the service. Afterwards, people go home to enjoy the holy water «свячёная вода» and holy Easter bread «свячёная пасха» along with many other foods and drinks.
The Russian word for farewells is прощания. (The singular form of the word is прощание.) There are different ways of saying farewell, and they all depend on the situation. When my family was leaving for the US, our friends and family were afraid that we would not be able to come back, but they tried to stay calm and high spirited by saying «Желаем вам всего наилучшего» meaning “We wish you all the best”. When we arrived in Arizona, my family was very tired and we went to sleep fast that night. My aunt showed us the rooms and said «Спокойной ночи и до завтра» “Good night and till tomorrow.” The next morning we enjoyed a breakfast of waffles and orange juice. It was only 6:30AM when my aunt stood up and said «Боюсь, что мне пора на работу» “I'm afraid I should be going to work.” Surprised at how early my aunt was leaving, my mom said «До вечера» meaning “Till evening,” and my aunt ran out the door.
Once in a while my mom called my grandmother in Russia and talked about family matters. At the end of the conversation, my mom always said «Передавай привет папе» meaning “Send my regards to Dad,” and my grandmother said «Хорошо, пока!» meaning “Okay, bye!” Whenever my grandfather talked to my mother on the phone, he became emotional because he missed our family very much, so he stayed off the phone and communicated through my grandmother. When someone says пока, this is usually a term used when talking to family or friends. However, when talking to strangers, co-workers, or other unrelated people, it is more polite to use the phrase «До свидания» “Goodbye” instead.
Last year my family went to a restaurant for my birthday. Upon arrival we picked a table. A waitress approached us immediately. We said to her «Принесите, пожалуйста, меню» “Bring the menu, please”. I had trouble picking a dish on the menu because everything looked very good so I said to the waitress «Что вы посоветуете?» meaning “What do you recommend?” I eventually ordered a tasty pasta dish with grilled chicken, cheese, and pasta sauce. «Обожаю сыр и курицу!» “I love cheesе and chicken!” Next, the waitress said «Что вы будете пить?» “What will you have to drink?” and everyone ordered their drinks.
Before we started eating, my family offered a toast to me by saying «За твоё здоровье и благополучие!» “To your health and happiness!” All of us enjoyed our dinner while sharing family stories and past experiances. At the end of the night my mom said to everyone «Всё было очень вкусно» “Everything was delicious” especially the salad which had fresh garlic croutons. We made our way to the exit after paying the bill and came home happy and tired.
The Russian word for tomato is помидор, as in «На балконе я посадил помидоры» “I planted tomatoes on the balcony.” Russians make great use of their apartment living space, so I've seen all sorts of plants being raised on balconies in the summer time in Moscow.
Of course, once you talk about tomatoes, you have to talk about tomato sauce. How would you go about putting together a phrase like that in Russian? In English it is common to put two nouns in a row with the first modifying the second, like in "city park." Russian mostly doesn't do that: normally the first word has to be put into adjective form. To make the adjective, you start with the stem of the noun, add an adjectival suffix and case endings. For instance:
|стол||столовый||столовая ложка tablespoon|
|чай||чайный||чайная ложка teaspoon|
чайный гриб tea mushroom
|город||городской||гороской парк city park|
With that in mind, a clever student might predict that "tomato sauce" in Russian would be «помидорный соус». But alas, even though there is such a word as помидорный, the Russians almost never use it in regards to the sauce. Instead they usually say томатный соус. If you think that implies that there must also be a word томат, you would be exactly right, but the noun томат is used much less often than the noun помидор. Thus one says «Я обожаю помидоры» “I adore tomatoes” using the one root, but one says «Меня обрызгал скунс, пришлось отмываться томатным соусом» “I got sprayed by a skunk and had to take a bath in tomato sauce” using the other root. Actually, they don't natively have skunks in Russia, so that won't be a big issue for you.
The матрёшка is a traditional Russian doll that has been in the Russian culture for many centuries. These dolls are an important part of the Russian culture and I believe that most Russian families own at least one Russian doll. It has become so popular that today, these dolls are sold in the US portraying American characters. The Russian doll is a series of hollow dolls that decrease in size and are fitted into one another as they get smaller. They are hand crafted, colorful, and are rich in fine detail which adds to the beauty of the final product.
In my Russian home, my parents had a collection of the dolls which stood in an elaborate cabinet behind a glass door. My mom said to me «я люблю нашу коллекцию матрёшек», “I love our collection of the Russian dolls”. I feel proud to own these dolls today because they show our culture.