6 Russian habits you should adopt – asap

The annual shutdown of hot water

The annual shutdown of hot water

Aleksandr Rymin/TASS
When the tough gets going, the going gets tough – and Russians know how to weather a storm. They also know a couple of other tricks to make life that little bit easier. Here are six of the best.

1. Bring a gift

Russians are never 'empty-handed' guests / Vladimir Vyatkin/RIA NovostiRussians are never 'empty-handed' guests / Vladimir Vyatkin/RIA Novosti

When visiting a friend, a neighbor, or just an acquaintance, Russians often bring a small gift. A box of chocolates, a cake or a toy for a child, maybe flowers. It's not the gift, but the thought that counts. The Russians say: "Well, we just can’t visit someone empty-handed!"

2. Leave a teaspoon in a cup of tea

 Leave a teaspoon in a cup of tea / RBTH Leave a teaspoon in a cup of tea / RBTH

In Soviet times, people joked that Russians drank tea with their right eye closed, so not to poke themselves in the eye with the protruding tea spoon. It’s a mystery why Russians do this. But a teacup with a spoon in it cools faster and apparently the tea tastes better...

3. Celebrate the New Year twice

A festive table during the New Year celebrations / Evgeny Yepanchintsev/RIA NovostiA festive table during the New Year celebrations / Evgeny Yepanchintsev/RIA Novosti

Before 1918, Russians used the Julian calendar which was 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar adopted in Europe. Although Russia switched to the new calendar a long time ago, the New Year in the old style (surprisingly called the Old New Year) is still celebrated. And if you think about it for a minute, it makes perfect sense to have two New Years instead of one: Two feasts and two parties (although to be honest, Russians don’t give presents during Old New Year) and, of course, there are two chances to make a wish.

4. Eat ice cream even in winter

Two Muscovites, dressed to endure the winter weather of about 17 F (8 below zero C), hold ice cream cones, 1992 / APTwo Muscovites, dressed to endure the winter weather of about 17 F (8 below zero C), hold ice cream cones, 1992 / AP

The cold season is not an excuse to give up your favorite treat. Some ice cream kiosks are still open in Russian cities even when the temperature drops below zero. If you are afraid of getting sick, try mixing the ice cream with delicious Russian jam (varenie). It will prevent your throat from getting too cold.

5. Work right up until the allotted deadline

The office worker / Sergey Kuznecov/RIA NovostiThe office worker / Sergey Kuznecov/RIA Novosti

Russians somehow manage to do everything at the last possible moment. They are slow starters but great finishers - this is a fact!

On the one hand, it indicates a complete inability to plan ahead, on the other – a tremendous ability to finish the job.

There is an old anecdote: A student is asked:" How much time do you need to learn Chinese? "He replies: "When is the deadline?”

6. Maintain optimism

During the annual shutdown of hot water... / Aleksandr Rymin/TASSDuring the annual shutdown of hot water... / Aleksandr Rymin/TASS

The annual shutdown of hot water for a few days, cold summers (2017 especially!), the financial crisis...Russians tend to treat everything with optimism. They prepare pots of hot water, have endless sweaters, and patience in abundance.

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – a positive mental attitude is key.

Read more:

Russia’s national drink isn’t vodka — it’s tea

Russia: Tips, Tricks & Travel - water issues

Survival guide: How to survive New Year, Russian-style

6 weird things Russians do that baffle foreigners

6 habits from the Soviet Union that Russians can’t shake

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