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5 Things You Should Never Do in Russia

Russia is a country with deep-rooted traditions and customs, some of which can be quite unexpected to Westerners. Everyone knows about the locals’ weird quirk of not smiling at strangers, but do you know that wearing your shoes inside is very disrespectful towards the homeowner, almost as much as visiting someone’s home emptyhanded. If you’re planning a Russia trip for business or pleasure, here are some things that you should better avoid.

Explore Russia, photo 1

Don’t Randomly Pick Up Coins on the Streets

There is an interesting superstition in Russia, concerning finding change on the streets. If you see a coin lying heads up, feel free to take it, as it’s a sign of good luck and prosperity. But if it’s lying tails up – you should better pass by, as picking it up promises a misfortune in the nearest future. Russian money is a source of a few interesting beliefs. You should never allow the wallet to be empty or you are risking facing poverty. And if you are looking for a new wallet, choosing a red one is always the best choice as this color is believed to be attracting money.

Don’t Shake Hands Over a Doorway

If you are about to hand a business card or shake hands with someone, don’t do it over a doorway. Russians believe that if this happens on a threshold – your luck will be dripping down from under the door. Just as you should avoid giving or receiving anything this way, it’s a bad sign in Russia. Better to ask a person to come in first and then pass him or accept the desired object.

Explore Russia, photo 2

Manspreading Is Not Allowed

While Commander William Riker can make manspreading work, he is pretty much the only one who can. In Russia, a man sitting with his legs spread is not considered attractive or dominating. He seems rude and impudent.

The same is true about sitting with an ankle of one leg on the knee of the other. There is no arguing that this is a good flexibility exercise, but the people around you won’t thank you for taking up twice the needed space. Every sitting position that allows people to see your sole should be left for the gym.

Don’t Forget Anything Before the Trip

If you enjoy a Russian vacation, you probably have more than one city on your travel plans. Most visitors try to see at least two glorious Russian capitals in one trip. If you are one of them and you are planning to travel from Moscow to St. Petersburg by train, do you know what to do before a long trip in Russia?

Always sit for a few minutes before leaving to catch your transport, and once you go out of the door – coming back to fetch something you forgot is a bad sign and a promise of troubles during the trip. So, it’s a good idea to double-check everything before leaving. But, there is good news as well. If for some reason you have to go back, make sure to look at the mirror before leaving. This simple gesture will fix your luck and cancel all the potential misfortunes you’ve brought on yourself.

Explore Russia, photo 3

Take Off Your Shoes When Inside

One of the easiest ways to be rude when visiting Russian friends is not to take off your shoes when entering their apartment. The hosts will offer you a pair of home slippers to change into, or you are welcome to stay barefoot but going anyone beyond the entrance hall in your street footwear is ill-mannered.

Inviting someone over is not a small deal in Russia, guests are treated like kings and are offered only the best. So taking off your shoes is the easiest way to show that you appreciate the effort. Plus, keep in mind that no one pays visits empty-handed, you are supposed to bring something for the hosts, like flowers or dessert.

As you can see, we didn’t lie. Russia is a mystery, full of interesting quirks and unwritten rules. And although you can hardly hope to be taken for a local during the first few visits, practice makes perfect. If you spend enough time in this amazing country, you will easily pick up most of the local peculiarities and learn the secrets that most tourists are not aware of.

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1 comment

  • Ribard · January 3, 2024 at 3:34 am

    Bonjour, je suis retraité, j’ai fais la connaissance d’une femme russe, et qui est elle-même jeune retraité. Irina est venu chez moi en France en juillet 2023. Et je tiens à la rejoindre en Russie, pour me faire découvrir son pays, et ça culture.elle et Tatars. (Hello, I am retired, I met a Russian woman, who is herself a young retiree. Irina came to me in France in July 2023. And I want to join her in Russia, to help me discover her country, and its culture. her and Tatars.)


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