Holidays ‘Russian Style’: What Do Russians Do on Their Dachas?
1,569 views   /  28 Nov 2015
Dacha is a private house or a cottage in the countryside where Russian people spend their holidays. It is one of the most popular places for Russians to have a short weekend trip or a long-summer break. Do you want to know how Russians spend their vacation in the countryside and what do they do while on holidays? Here are some examples of Russians’ typical leisure activities.
By Anastasia Fistashka
‘Physical Training’ in Vegetable Gardens
Dachas are very common in our country and are part of the Russian tradition. For many Russians, dacha is not only a holiday resort where one can relax, have a swell time and just be lazy, but also a place where people make some useful things, like growing their own vegetable gardens or running their farms. There is an old tradition of our grandparents – growing their own food, which is by the way, of high-quality, 100% organic and definitely tastier than in supermarkets.
Thus, when you visit someone’s dacha in the Russian countryside, don’t expect people to sit around and have nothing to do. Most of them would usually be on the go – carrying water from a well, watering flowers or weeding their gardens.
Though even such activities might sometimes seem too physically demanding and not worth the effort, the older folks aren’t in a hurry to abandon the old tradition. They view a dacha as a certain way of life where you have to keep up with your neighbors and grow your own stuff.
Picking Berries and Mushrooms
Another popular way of spending time in the Russian countryside is to go to the forest to pick berries and mushrooms. Waking up early in the morning and being dressed from head to toe in waterproof clothes, berry-pickers head into the woods in search of “their prey”.
It is a really cool feeling to come back home with a basket full of wild strawberries or fresh forest mushrooms. What can be better than having a tasty dinner with the food that you – just like people in the ancient times – managed to find by yourself?
Salting Homegrown Food
Russians are used to marinate using salt and pickles everything they grow or gather. The habit of preserving food has always been important in Russia due to short growing seasons and long cold winters. In the Russian countryside, you can often watch people putting a lot of their homegrown food into cans with salt water, vinegar or sugar.
During the cold time, when there is less fresh food, canned fruits and vegetables can help make one’s lunch more exciting and rich in vitamins.
Barbecue, Vodka and Russian Banya
Work in the morning – relax in the evening – is a widespread saying in Russia. After a hard day working in the garden, you can finally relax with your friends – make barbecue (shashlyk), drink tea, beer or vodka and experience the Russian banya (Russian type of sauna).
Almost every countryside cottage in Russia has this building, made out of wood where you can have a steam bath. You can sit or lay on wooden benches and be smacked with special bath brooms made from birch twigs.
After warming up, you can pour cold water over yourself or even jump into the snow during the winter time. If you find it too extraordinary, though, you don’t have to follow others and can just have a slightly warm shower.
All in all, everyone in Russia respects the tradition of Russian banya. Some view it as a way to strengthen their physical health, while others – especially women – take a steam bath hoping to lose weight and look younger. In any case, Russian banya is a great activity. It helps you to relax, “wash off fatigue” after a hard working week and remove stress.
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