Visiting a Russian house – Different types of visits you can be invited to
Do you like to pay visits to people? Most Russians would answer this question with a definitive “yes”. And if you ask them “do you like to receive guests?”, they would give the same answer – “yes”. Russian people have always been known for their hospitality, but did you know that there are several types of visits to which you can be invited?
The first type is for some “official occasion” with a big feast. The occasion can be anything: a birthday, an official public holiday, success at work or at university, etc. As a rule, the date of that visit is agreed in advance so that all the guests can make it, and the host family can prepare a festive menu and their apartment for the celebration.
Another type of visit is чаепи́тие [cha-ee-pée-tee-ye] (tea drinking). Tea drinking is the favorite pastime of Russians. Historically, the tea drinking was held at the end of dinner, but in the modern world this tradition has changed and the tea drinking can be arranged at any time, for example, after a walk with your friends you can go to someone’s place for a cup of tea. The main attribute of tea drinking are sweets. Candies, biscuits, cakes, pies, honey, jam are companions of this Russian tea ceremony. Conversations during tea drinking can last for hours, and the number of cups of tea you drink can be measured by a two digits number.
Кварти́рник [kvar-téer-neek], which can be translated as “apartment event”, is the youngest type of visits. It began to emerge in the 60s of the twentieth century, and was especially popular in the 80s. Initially, the kvartirnik was a mini-home-concert where acoustic musicians played rock or folk music, bard songs.
The official authorities did not recognize these musical trends, so the performers were forced to look for a place where they could perform their music. Usually, at the end of the “official part” of the kvartirnik, when most of the guests went home, a few people stayed and quietly talked in the kitchen so not to wake up the ones who was already sleeping. Such quiet and long conversations in the kitchen were particularly sincere, people used to discuss the most intimate thoughts and secrets.
Now the kvartirnik has lost its original function – it is not a home scene for musicians anymore, but people still continue to gather in someone’s apartment to spend time together.
Going to the dacha
And the last type of visits can be called “going to the dacha”. Dacha (да́ча [dá-cha]) is a cottage in the country side. If you or one of your friends happened to have a dacha, then a summer or even winter meeting for barbecues is inevitable. Such meetings are planned in advance, the roles of the “participants” of such action are well distributed: one buys and marinates meat, the other one is responsible for drinks, someone else has to think about what will be served with a ready-made barbecue.
These are the most typical types of visits to which you can be invited by your Russian friends or acquaintances. In any of those cases, the main motivation for drinking tea or going to the dacha is to strengthen the friendship or get to know each other better in order to become good friends over time. So if you get invited, don’t miss the invitation and a chance to spend some quality time and get closer to your Russian friends!
Culturologist, professor of Russian as a foreign language and promoter of Russian culture.
Aleksandra gives Russian lessons via Skype.