Russian Customs, Traditions, and Culture

When traveling to Russia remember that you’re a guest and respect Russian etiquette, traditions and customs. While you don’t have to remember every little Russian custom it is important to keep some in mind. Tip service staff 10%-15% and leave a daily dollar or two for the hotel housekeeping staff. When interacting with the local population in a non-service capacity there are a few things remember. Never greet someone or shake a hand over a threshold, it is bad luck. Wait until you are entirely inside and then greet your host. Should you be invited into someone’s home, bring a gift, any gift. Food and alcohol will be greatly appreciated. Flowers are also common but don’t bring an even number. That’s for funerals. At some point your host may offer you gifts, repeatedly. Say, ‘No’. Keep saying no unless they refuse to relent. They’re being polite, they probably don’t actually want you to take their possessions home. Here are a few other, general ‘rules’ of Russian etiquette and customs: 1. Arrive on time. Being ‘casually late’ can be a sign of disrespect to your host. 2. Don’t talk politics, especially about the U.S.S.R. It is a social taboo and worse, you risk saying something uninformed. 3. On public transit the elderly (especially woman), pregnant woman, and woman in general should never be allowed to stand. Give your seat up to them or expect some very dirty looks. 4. Try to learn a few key Russian phrases to help get you get around. It’ll show that you care and are willing to make the effort. At the bare minimum, learn the Russian for, “Do you speak English” Besides that, be polite, respectful and follow the lead of others. If you are truly worried, spend some time reading about Russian customs, traditions and culture before your trip.