“We drank a samovar under the shade of a hundred-year-old cranberry”: the most ridiculous tales of foreign travelers about Russia

Even Catherine II complained that “there is no people about which so many lies, absurdities and slander have been invented, as about the Russian people.” A huge, distant and mysterious country attracted and frightened foreigners, and their notes were full of all sorts of conjectures that gave rise to incredibly tenacious stereotypes. In the drawing of a traveler who visited Russia in the middle of the 19th century, shepherds are chasing a herd of bears along a village street, and foreign tourists are still upset when they don’t meet a single clubfoot on Tverskaya and learn that Russians no longer inflate the samovar with their boots. “Subtleties” harvested the most spreading cranberries from the pages of old memoirs about Our-with-you-Immense.

5. Because of the eternal winter, Russians stay at home and behave strangely

In the 15-17 centuries, most travelers arrived in Russia from warm countries, so the first thing that struck them was our harsh winters. “The frost there is so strong that the river freezes over!” – the Venetian Josaphat Barbaro wrote quite truthfully. But his compatriot Ambrogio Contarini, who was visiting Moscow at the end of the 15th century, for some reason decided that because of the cold weather, life in Russia freezes, and people are forced to stay at home for 9 months a year, almost hibernating.

In the middle of the 20th century, the American worker Robert Robinson, who lived in the Soviet Union for 14 years, explained the oddities of the national character with frost.

Robinson believed that Russians behave unpredictably due to “terribly cold winters”, and when the temperature drops to -30 ° C, Russian women cry and get irritated for no apparent reason.

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4. People in Russia don't like to work

Have a hearty lunch, then sleep for 3 hours, then have dinner and again on your side – this is how the French diplomat Foix de la Neuville, who visited Russia in 1689, describes the daily routine of lazy Russians in Notes on Muscovy. The work of the same name by his colleague Sigismund Herberstein, published in the middle 16th century, contains similar observations: Russians do not work well, behave irresponsibly and drink heavily. The same opinion is shared by Eric Palmkvist of Sweden, who visited Russia with an embassy: “Russians have an extraordinary physical strength, are very capable of work, but at the same time they are extremely lazy and most willingly indulge in revelry, until need forces them to get down to business” .

3. Russian women drink vodka to gain weight

This conclusion was made by the English physician Samuel Collins, who served as the life physician of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich: “Thin women are considered unhealthy, and therefore those who are not naturally prone to fat indulge in all kinds of epicureanism with the intention of gaining weight: they lie in bed all day, drink Russian vodka, which is very conducive to fatness, then they sleep, and then they drink again. A little later, the secretary of the embassy of Emperor Leopold I at the court of Peter I, Johann Georg Korb, created an equally strange image of Russian ladies: they wash too often because they have nothing to do, “since this modification of idleness to some extent still serves them as entertainment in boredom from inactivity, eating these wretched creatures.”

< h2>2. Nobody bathes in Russia

Meanwhile, back in the early 17th century, with the light hand of the Frenchman Jacques Margeret, Russia was considered a barbaric country, alien to hygiene standards: “Russians, even nobles, are all shaggy, unwashed and untidy,” he writes. And this despite the fact that the Russians took a bath at least twice a week, and some European monarchs took a bath only twice in their lives – immediately after birth and immediately before the wedding. Foreigners told what Russian speech is like.

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1. Russians rejoice only twice a year

The English shipbuilder John Perry, who arrived in Russia at the invitation of Peter I, believed that gloomy Russians can rejoice only in two things – the beginning of winter and its end: “Russians twice a year , when the seasons change, they express their joy: firstly, when the first snow falls on the ground, and winter is so established that it is possible to cross the ice in a sleigh on horseback. Another time comes after the ice begins to melt, becomes dangerous for the crossing, and finally breaks into pieces.

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