25 Compelling Russian Culture Facts: Culture, Beliefs, History, & More

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Oct 27, 2022 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Mar 30, 2022
Fact-checked by Shreya Yadav
Budding historians should know all about these Russian culture facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.8 Min

Russia or the Russian Federation is the largest country in the world, situated in Europe.

The country extends from Eastern Europe to Northern Asia. As a result, it also has a number of time zones and a variety of geographical features.

The capital of Russia is in Moscow, and it follows a democratic, federative, republican form of government. The President of Russia is the leader of the country.

Russia is also known for its history of communism and its communist heritage, as it was a part of the Soviet Union prior to the '90s. Some of the most well-known symbols of Russia are nesting dolls as well as the Lake Baikal.

Lake Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake in the world. Russian architecture is also quite unique and stands out in comparison to other types of Western architecture.

As a part of the Soviet Union, Russia was also known for being an important country during the '60s. Many political science books recount how Russia and the United States of America had a long, sustained Cold War between them.

Keep scrolling to learn more amazing Russian culture facts!

Religion & Beliefs

Russia is not known for its diversity in terms of religion or belief, but it still has a diverse population. There are around 25 million Muslims, 1.5 million Buddhists, and 1,80,000 Jewish people in Russia.

Many ethnic groups also follow pagan beliefs. However, under the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, worshiping or the practice of religion was banned entirely.

Over 70% of the Russian population follows Russian Orthodox Christianity.

Russia followed paganism till the 10th century, after which rulers adopted Christianity. Christianity became the single most important religion in the country as it unified different people. However, pagan beliefs persisted and still exist.

In Soviet Russia under the Communist regime, all religion was banned.

Since the '90s, many Russians are engaging with religious again and are following Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Slavic Paganism along with Russian Orthodox Christianity.

However, the 1997 law on religion passed by the government made it quite difficult for less-established religious sects to register, worship, or exercise their freedom of religious belief.

Food & Drink

The cuisine culture of Russia is quite similar to that of other Scandinavian countries like Poland. Russian cuisine is not very famous throughout the world as it is heavily dependent on dried, preserved meats and vegetable soups for sustenance. People usually eat their meals in the kitchen and when guests come over, food is served soon after they arrive.

For most meals in a Russian home, there is a plate for the main course along with a smaller plate for appetizers. Along with that, there are shot glasses for vodka and normal glasses for water or juice. People usually serve themselves and pass around bowls and plates.

The most common food dishes in Russia include beets or cabbage salads, stews or soups like borscht, and cutlets made out of beef, lamb, game, or sturgeon. People also like to eat spicy fish stews.

It is difficult to procure fresh meat regularly, so most Russians preserve it in their homes for a long time using the techniques of smoking and jerking. Since the meat is boiled prior to eating, it loses much of its smooth texture and taste. 

A number of fruits and berries grow in Russia that are rare in other parts of the world, like blueberries, cloudberries, and red or black currants. 

Most food items are seasonal in this country, as people tend to buy what is growing during that time. Fish and berries are eaten a lot during summer, while wild mushrooms are popular during fall. 

Music & Dance

Until the 18th century, Russian music consisted entirely of folk songs and church music. However, with the intervention of Empress Anna Ivanovna, Russians were exposed to Western secular music. Since then, Russian culture has seen the rise of wonderful music and dance pieces. Anna Pavlova, the famous ballerina, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, the choreographer, both hail from Russia.

One of the most popular dances in Russia is the 'khorovod,' where people move around in a circle while holding hands. This dance is usually performed during pagan holidays.

Presently, 'rucheek' is very popular among Russians. For this dance, pairs dance across two lines while holding hands. This is a modification of the popular dance form 'khorovod.'

Another famous dance that is often performed during festivals and market events is the 'plyaska,' where men and women dance without touching one another. Women move while holding handkerchiefs and men use energetic movements like jumps. The most common steps in this dance are squats, claps, and taps.

The first Russian composer to gain fame worldwide was Mikhail Glinka. He created musicals like 'A Life for the Tsar' and 'Ruslan and Lyudmila,' which are still well-loved.

Another famous composer was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who created iconic pieces like 'Swan Lake,' 'The Nutcracker,' and 'Sleeping Beauty.'

People who are interested in Russia should know these Russian culture facts.

Sports & Technology

Russia has been recognized as one of the most important countries in the history of science and technology. Many Russian scientists are also known for their revolutionary contributions to the field of space exploration. Along with that, Russians are also passionate about sports, with football and ice hockey being some of the most well-loved sports in the country.

One of the major sporting events to be held in Russia was the 22nd Winter Olympic Games held in February 2014 in Sochi. The Paralympic Winter Games were also held in Sochi that year.

The 21st FIFA World Cup was also held in Russia (with Russia as the host country) in 2018.

FC Zenit and FC CSKA are two Russian football clubs which won the UEFA Europa League Cup in 2007/08 and 2004/05 respectively.

Russian scientist D. Mendeleev created the Periodical Table for remembering all the elements, and this is considered one of the most important contributions to modern science.

Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin was on board the first manned space flight. With the contribution of the Russian scientist S. Korolev, Russia had the honor of sending the first unmanned flight 'Sputnik' into space.

Other Facts

Russia is also known for its stunning architecture, like Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. Russians also love green tea and black tea. The Red Square and Saint Petersburg are other important places to visit in the largest country in the world.

Apart from Russian architecture and the beautiful Russian churches, Russian literature is also well-known throughout the world. Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov are considered by many to be two of the greatest writers in the world. Some other interesting facts about Russia include facts about their official language.

Russia followed the Julian calendar till 1918, primarily for keeping track of their festivals and celebrations. They switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1918.

According to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Russian population speaks approximately 270 languages and dialects. The major languages (apart from Russian) that are spoken include German, English, Tatar, and Chechen.

A cat living in the Hermitage Museum became popular throughout the world for its ability to predict the results of important football matches. During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Achille the cat predicted the winner of the first four matches correctly!

Russia is the fifth-highest tea drinker in the world. People also offer tea as a common beverage when they have visitors at home.

'The Motherland Calls' statue in Volgograd is the tallest statue of a woman figure in Europe, as well as in the whole world. It is 278 ft (85 m) tall and is placed on the hilltop at Mamayev Kurgan.


What is a popular tradition in Russia?

At the end of February, Russians celebrate Maslenitsa which is an old Pagan festival. Originally, this day was for remembering the dead and honoring their memory. However, the tradition is now known as 'butter week' or 'pancake week,' as people make blinis or go sleigh riding to mark the arrival of spring.

What is Russia's religion?

Different people follow different religions in Russia, but the Christian Russian Orthodox Church is dominant in the country.

What is the climate in Russia like?

Russia has a continental climate with long, extremely winters and short summers that are quite warm and dry.

Do Russian celebrate Christmas?

Russians do celebrate Christmas, and it is also a national holiday in the country.

What was the main occupation in Russia prior to the 21st century?

Till the early part of the 20th century, agriculture was the main occupation of the Russian people.

What is considered taboo in Russia?

Russians consider it to be bad luck if two people shake their hands across a doorway. Thus, a person should clear the threshold of a house, and then shake hands.

What is the main church in Russia?

The Russian Orthodox Church or the Moscow Patriarchate is the main church in Russia.

What is Santa called in Russia?

In Russia, Santa Claus has taken on the form of 'Ded Moroz' or Grandfather Frost.

Does Russia have food banks?

Russia has eight food banks that help people during times of extreme need or crisis.

What is Russia's favorite drink?

Despite Russia's association with vodka, Russia's favorite drink is tea as Russians rank as the fifth-highest tea drinkers in the world.

What is Russia's most popular food?

The most popular food items in Russia are blinis (buckwheat pancakes) and borscht, which is a type of soup.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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Fact-checked by Shreya Yadav

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Psychology

Shreya Yadav picture

Shreya YadavBachelor of Arts specializing in Psychology

Shreya has developed a diverse set of skills through her experience in client servicing, email marketing, content and e-commerce management, digital marketing, and creative content writing. Her educational background includes a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi. Shreya's passion for ongoing learning and development is a testament to her commitment to excellence.

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