Photo: Girts Ragelis/Shutterstock

How to Piss Off a Siberian

by Elena Zakomoldina-Fitoussi Jul 30, 2017

1. Complain about the cold.

We Siberians are proud of our frost, even though sometimes we may grumble to outlanders about our rough life in never-ending winter. This whining is mostly about a desire to elicit admiration for our strong backbones. In fact, every year we impatiently wait for the first snow to come and believe that due to our Siberian climate, we look younger and remain healthy.

2. Underestimate the importance of traditional clothing.

We Siberians believe that bad weather is not an issue, but inadequate clothes are. Knowing how to dress yourself properly is almost genetic for us. Sacrificing fashion over warmth is the best choice you can make during our brutal winters. Go for valenki (felted boots) or unty (reindeer fur boots), dublenka (sheepskin coat), and brighten this up with a hand-knit woolen scarf and mittens. Never forget your socks because keeping your feet warm is vitally important. If you don’t follow a Siberian’s advice, don’t complain!

3. Be a vegetarian.

Siberian affection for meat is rational. To keep warmth, a body demands plenty of calories. We buy, cook, need and savor meat — especially considering that for the most of a year, fruits and vegetables come in cans. They are a good garnish or a tasty snack, but not a provider of necessary nutrients. Stating that you are a vegetarian (or God forbid, a vegan) is a challenge to us to prove how wrong you are. We’ll cook your stew with a chicken broth and fry your veggies in a pork fat, not because we don’t give care about your dietary preferences, but because we know the right way to survive a Siberian winter.

4. Refuse food or state that you are on a diet.

We are a very amiable and hospitable people. When you visit a Siberian home, be sure we’ll try to wine and dine you. Turn down this offer once and you’ll end up on our blacklist as a very rude person.

5. Reject drinking with a host (unless you are an alcoholic).

When we have guests, we turn any meal into a feast. We cook our best dishes and take out the nalivka (homemade berry liqueur). Alcohol, in this case, does not serve a purpose to get drunk, it’s more of a help to your stomach to be able to digest all the delicacies that are on the table. We’ll respect you if you tell us you can’t drink.

6. Forget your manners.

Whether you are at home or in a public place, you’d better behave yourself. Bad language, as well as lousy table manners, will put you in many awkward situations. Raising the voice is unacceptable and will give you nothing but judging looks and comments from passers-by.

7. Fail being a gentleman.

We Siberians keep gender differences traditional. Wake up your hibernating chevalier if you don’t want to feel ashamed. Siberian women will expect you to open the doors, carry heavy bags, and be in charge for the decisions. It doesn’t mean we can’t do it without you.

8. Lack respect for the elderly.

Us Siberians tend to be much more religious than the rest of the country. Our regard for aging comes from the biblical saying, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’ But even outside of a family, we always show deference to older individuals. We give them a seat in a public transport and never argue with them. The elders in Siberia play a key role in raising grandchildren and help with a household. Respect is the minimum what we can give in return.

9. Address someone by “ty” without asking their permission.

The Russian language, much like Spanish, has two forms of ‘you’ that differ in level of politeness. ‘Vy’ (Usted in Spanish) is the more formal and polite pronoun; meanwhile ‘ty’ (tu in Spanish) is more appropriate for using with friends and family. Always go with ‘vy’ at the first meeting and with someone older than you. The change from a polite to informal form of this pronoun is only acceptable after the question ‘Mozhno na ty?’ (“May I address you by ‘ty?”

10. Ask personal questions.

Unless you’re a friend, stay away from personal questions. We Siberians consider curiosity rude. {mn-post-ender]

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