'-42°C, eating ice cream': How Russians joke about freezing cold winters

When winter comes, all those stupid stereotypes about how cold is Russia seem less stupid. all of a sudden.

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You’d think that Russians would by now be used to winter’s deep freeze. The truth, however, is that we continue to groan and complain, constantly swearing but finding relief through humor.  How else to deal with the freaking cold?

In the American TV series, The Event, which was aired in 2010-2011, one part made every single Russian who saw it laugh hysterically. One character mentions a secret weapon that’s hidden near the Russian city of Murmansk (adding that they should go investigate) and the other woman says: “Do you know how cold it is in Western Siberia this time of year? 10°F!”

First, Murmansk is not in Western Siberia; it’s in the European part of Russia above the Arctic Circle. Second, 10°F equals -12.2°C, which is not at all cold for Russians. It might be time to put on a warm sweater, but it’s hardly a national disaster. Right now, in December, the temperature outside our Moscow office is about -15°C, and we are totally fine. Swearing a bit, but that’s usual.

The Russian winter is something that we are used to, and we like to make fun of this constant hellish frost that dominates our lives for about five months a year. (Since you can’t change anything, you just have to laugh about it).

Here are some of the best Russian jokes about the cold. Note: all temperatures are in Celsius

+20° – Greeks put on sweaters (if they can find them).
+15° – Hawaiians turn on heaters (if they have them).
+10° – Americans shiver, while Russians are planting cucumbers.
+5° – You see your own breath. Italian cars don’t start. Norwegians take a bath. Russians drive with the windows down.
0° – Water freezes in America; in Russia it thickens.

-5° – French cars don’t start.

-10° – You’re planning a vacation to Australia.

-15° – Your cat insists on sleeping in your bed. Norwegians put on sweaters.

-18° – New York City landlords turn on the heat. Russians have their last picnic.

-20° – American cars don’t start. People in Alaska start wearing long-sleeves.

-25° – German cars don’t start. Hawaiians die.

-30° – Politicians start thinking about homeless people. Your cat prefers to sleep in your pajamas.

-35° – Too cold to think. Japanese cars don’t start.

-40° – You’re planning a two-week hot tub bath. Swedish cars don’t start.

-42° – Public transportation comes to a halt in Europe. Russians eat ice cream on the street.

-45° – All Greeks die. Politicians finally start doing something for the homeless.

-50° – Your eyelids start sticking when you blink. In Alaska, people close the window in the bathroom.

-60° – Polar bears start heading south.

-70° – Hell freezes.

-73° – Finnish social services evacuate Santa Claus from Lapland. Russians wear earmuff hats.

-80° – Lawyers put their hands in their own pockets.

-114° – Ethyl alcohol starts to freeze. Russians are moaning.

-273° – Absolute zero; subatomic particles cease their movement. Russians wear boots.

-295° – 90% of the planet is dead. Russian soccer team wins the world championship.

In fact, Russians suffer from cold just like anyone else, and we even have a separate text on this matter. Plus, in the northernmost regions, such as Murmansk, it’s even worse because in winter they have to survive the polar night and don’t see the sun for more than a month. That inspired this joke (with a bit of exaggeration):

Q: What did the police detective in Murmansk say to the suspect?
A: "Where were you on the night of September to March?"

Another popular joke about foreigners’ attitude towards Russia’s climate goes:

A student studying in Russia is writing a letter to his relatives: “During ‘green winter’ it was more or less OK, but when the white one started, things got really hard…”

Some jokes look like cries for help. Try this one:

All winter long in Russia we look forward to spring, and when spring comes we look forward to winter really ending.

Or this:

Once, a guy from Chukotka (a very cold region in the Far East) bought a refrigerator.

- Why do you need this? It’s cold enough!

- It’s for me; not for food! I will go inside to get warmer: it’s only -4° in the fridge and -40° outside!

Or this… actually, it’s all of them.

Such a shame no foreign enemy wants to invade Moscow. These magnificent frosts are going to waste!

In order not to freeze to death, people tend to be very inventive.

Winter. A corporate meeting at a Russian office. About 95 percent of workers caught a cold and didn’t come. The boss says:

- And now Mr. Ivanov will tell us how you manage to stay healthy!

- It’s simple; I don’t go outside for a cigarette. I just secretly smoke on the stairs.

And, like all northern nations, Russians love to mock warm-loving southerners who nearly have a stroke when several centimeters of snow cover their roads.

But don’t fear. The Russian winter is really not that bad; – just follow these simple survival tips. Here and here.  

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