Among popular drinking songs are “Oiy, it’s freezing, it’s freezing;” “Am I guilty?” and “The Black Raven.”
Proposing a toast before each new round of drinks is an old Russian tradition. At official events, the toasts are serious and earnest. But at parties with close friends, they’re usually ironic and jocular. Some toasts, however, can lead to tears.
The popular Soviet comedy, Kidnapping, Caucasian Style, is a goldmine of funny quotes and arouses strong emotions when recalled. In one episode, the main character, Shurik, is greeted in a restaurant with wine and toasts. One was very touching: “And when the entire flock flew to winter in the south, one small but proud bird said: ‘I personally will fly straight to the sun.’ And it flew higher and higher, but very soon burned its wings and fell down to the bottom of the deepest abyss. Let’s drink so that none of us, no matter how high he flies, will ever be separated from the team!” Unexpectedly, however, Shurik starts to cry. “What’s wrong?” another guest asks him. “I feel sorry for the bird,” Shurik says.
Poetry can provoke a rapid flow of emotions, especially when linked to something or somebody important to us. Even today, the poetry of Alexander Pushkin, Sergei Yesenin, and Marina Tsvetayeva touches Russians to the depth of their souls. Listen to Anna Akhmatova’s voice recorded in the middle of the last century. When she utters her poems about tragic events in the country’s history, it’s impossible to hold back tears.
Nostalgia often leads to sadness and melancholy among émigré Russians, and sometimes they feel so lonely and sorrowful that they can’t hold back the tears. They miss not only their friends and relatives but also Russian culture. “I can’t look without tears at photographs of birch trees,” goes a song by the famous Russian rock band, Bi-2, who spent several years living abroad in the 1990s.
This video proves that “it was better in the past.”
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