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Россия и Россияне: модуль 6

Russians are reputed for their affinity for alcohol. Vodka is described by Hedrick Smith as «one of the indispensable lubricants and escape mechanisms of Russians life…Russians drink to blot out the tedium of life, to warm themselves from the chilling winters, and they eagerly embrace the escapism it offers.» But, Johann Georg Kohl, a German who lived in Russia for six years wrote, «while drinking made the Germans coarse and boisterous, the English brutal and beastly and the Spaniards gloomy and revengeful, it made Russians cheerful and humorous. At the first stage they begin to chat and tell stories, they sing and fall into each other’s arms, hugging, kissing nearly stifling one another. By and by even enemies become reconciled and mutually embrace; former animosities are forgiven. All strangers of whatever class or age are then cordially saluted, kissed and cuddled. . . The Russians did not fight when drunk, but often threw or broke things, chairs, tables, windows.» When Kohl asked a peasant about this propensity to drinking, the Russian answered with equanimity, «God has made Russians so, what to do? Who can alter them?»

In any case, it was all part of being human. Warmly brought up as children, the Russians were never tortured with the puritanical idea of unredeemable guilt. Their church taught them that any sin, as long as it was sincerely repented, could be forgiven. It was the great strength of the Russian that through all misfortunes and adversity he kept this enduring sense of tightness and security. «A scolding,» said he, calmly, » does not show on the collar» and » One opinion does not make a proverb.» Direct and unsentimental, he had a great tolerance for human failing and weakness: » Don’t rejoice in the misfortune of another; yours is there in your vegetable patch.»

As he lived close to nature , the Russian was unaffected and near to both the crudities and pleasures of life, and therefore was above all a realist. «If you make yourself a canal,» says the proverb, » someone will pour water through you.» The life of simple Russian people was measured in the slow rhythms of nature and regulated by the church. Both taught them patience.

» The Devil’s work is quick,» said they. » It is bright and flashing. God works slowly; look at nature.» Faith in God was so characteristic that the word for peasant in Russian, Kresryanin, is simply » a Christian.» After visiting Russia in 1867, the Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London wrote, » The sense of God’s presence, of the supernatural, seems to me to penetrate Russian life more completely than that of any other of the Western nations.»

Yet the deep faith in God which so much characterized the Russians people did not prevent them from surrounding themselves with a world of poetic superstitions reaching back into their pre-Christian past and founded in the nature of which they felt themselves so much a part.These superstitions, which permeated their lives, seemed eminently sensible to them, helping to decipher a whole mysterious world of omens and signs which the church could not entirely explain. And even today the Russians are » a mystical, religious superstitious people at heart».

Hedrick Smith writes, » My politically orthodox, middle-aged language teacher tried to persuade me that superstitions were passe^, only for poor , uneducated people or those plagued by illness. People who are healthy and well off, she insisted, have no need for them. An elderly writer agreed, but added that it was the ailments and ordeals of Russian life which made Russians such great believers • in omens, signs and portents, such paganistic worriers about the evil eye, such apostles of old wives’ tales and folk cures.

I recall a poet seriously counseling me once never to go back to my apartment for something I had forgotten because it was bad luck to return and to have to leave a second time…
Others were careful not to mention the precise destination of trips so as not to attract the attention of the evil eye…

We knew other Russians who, like Orientals, put their faith in the zodiac names of the years. Still others, including intellectuals, swore that leap year is unlucky, and attributed some calamities to that cause.

The coming of anything so precious as a child invokes all manner of precautions. It is bad luck to pick a name in advance, bad luck to buy a . present ahead of time, even worse to discuss the likely date…

So strong are the inhibitions against shaking hands across the threshold, for fear that it foreshadows a quarrel, that I came to America hesitating to reach my hand through an open door.
Russians do not knock on wood so much as we but they spit figuratively over their left shoulders for the same purpose…

Friday is a melancholy day, perhaps going back to Good Friday, but what intrigued me was that Monday is so widely regarded as inauspicious for launching a new undertaking…

Any cat, not just a black cat, is a bad omen crossing one’s path. But when you get a new home, Russians said, a cat should be the first creature to enter.

If a bird flies in a window, it is a very bad portent of impending tragedy…

The roots of many of these superstitions seem to lie in the countryside, like the Russian fondness for proverbs or their belief in folk remedies. City people as well as peasants often prefer medicinal herbs and grasses over modem drugs for simple ailments.»

Опубликовано 2.06.2022 в категории Сценарий уроков |
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Щукина Надежда Михайловна
учитель английского языка, зав. кафедрой ИЯ, Заслуженный учитель РХ, МОУ “Гимназия”, г.Абакан, р. Хакасия.


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