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Russians hard-working alcoholics (Russia-IC poll results)

The recent poll Russians seem to be presented on our website has shown that the portrait of Russians, according to the poll participants, can be depicted as a nation of hard-working alcoholics. The available answer variants have divided in the following order: 32% of participants deem that Russians seem to be heavy drinkers, 31% consider Russian people hard-working, 27% are sure that its a hospitable nation, and 10% see Russians as ill-mannered. Lets try to analyze how close to reality the poll results are.

Its apparently obvious that such words as vodka and drinking look like synonyms of the word Russia for almost every foreigner. At the same time it is hard to define when the areole of heavy drinking and the subtle alcohol smell started to spread over the country. There would be a seed of truth in the statement that if you deprive Russians of alcohol you will deprive them of life. The birth of a little Russian is marked with his relatives drinking alcohol to celebrate the highly important occasion, and later, at the age of 70+ (if he is lucky), or 60+, or 50+, his relatives will drink even more alcohol Causa Mortis.

An attempt to find out the reasons of the overwhelming alcohol drinking amongst Russians would hardly be of success: its a fathomless mystery, buried deep in history and peculiarities of the Russian soul. However, the even greater mystery twisting the Western mind is how some Russians can consume not only alcohol directly intended for drinking but also surrogate drinks and even substances produced for other purposes. Would you like to taste medical liquids, plant preparations, after shave lotions or household cleaning products?

The saddest thing about this tragicomic stereotype is when a foreigner offers you, Russian, to have a drink or two and gets the respond Sorry, but I do not drink alcohol, you are most likely to be awarded with the question Are you sure you are Russian?

Another addition to the national image, according to our poll results, is hard-working, which would logically contradict the heavy drinking characteristics. Nevertheless, its enough to have a look at the organization of labour in Russia to find out how objective this poll result is.

The Russian workday has always lasted since the very morning till evening, no matter what weather and season it is. Its not a rarity here to meet people working up to 10-14 or more hours per day despite the 8 hours federal norm. Russian peasants never complained about severe working conditions as well as they didnt have siesta during agricultural labour in summer heat. Fast-food and semi-finished products, which were invented in the West and have never had same popularity in Russia, show nothing but reluctance to cook. In fact, its wasnt in Russians traditions to invent various gadgets in order to avoid as much manual activities as possible. In Russia labour was cultivated and along with the ability to mobilize helped the nation overcome the hard periods in history.

Here it goes the point about Russian hospitality. Though, if believe the poll, this Russian trait is not as considerable as the love to alcohol, some deem that Russians are hospitable.

The degree of hospitality varies from family to family: in one case you may be lucky to be invited to somebodys place and served with such extended dinner, that you wont feel hungry for the whole next week, or, in some other cases, you will get a cup of tea with a couple of biscuits. However, the latter would likely be compensated with the offer to have some heating drink Russians always have in reserve.

Its not too pleasant to admit, but those 10% of poll participants who consider Russians ill-mannered, are treacherously right. Minding their Ps and Qs is not amongst the brightest traits of the national Russian character. If somebody has stepped on your foot and started showering you with blames; if the seller at the counter looks like shes just buried her favourite little budgie; if youve been standing at the crosswalk for 15 minutes and waiting when the drivers stop and finally let you cross the street, then you are undoubtedly in Russia at the moment. This phenomenon can hardly be explained, but one of the hypotheses shedding light on the Russian lack of courtesy says that its nothing but side effects of inordinate sincerity and spontaneity.

To summarize all written above it would be most appropriate to conclude that there is always a good share of truth in national stereotypes, which has once again been proved by our recent poll.

Lavrentyeva Natalya


November 18, 2006 17:25

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