“Why to Learn Russian?”

· Because you have a spirit of adventure. Learning Russian connects you to 144 million people who list Russian as their mother tongue and another 116 million who speak it fluently as a second language.

· Because you’d like to understand your past. Maybe you have family or friends with Russian heritage. Learning about Russian language and culture will give you a deep appreciation for the people who live in this vast region that spans 9 times zones and borders 16 countries.

· Because you want to prepare for your future. Russian is one of the major languages of the world and is also one of the official languages of the United Nations. Russian language has significant propagation in 33 countries of the world.

According to W3Techs research (March 2013), Russian became the second most abundant language in Internet: 6% web-resources of the world’s web network communicated in Russian.

Special university programs for studying Russian language offered in 79 countries; in 54 countries school education and  training conducted in Russian.
Many opportunities are open to students with qualifications in Russian. You may be interested in the organization of human society, comparative literature, linguistics – Russian studies are highly relevant to all of these. Since most Eastern European countries have academic exchange programs with USA, well-qualified students should not encounter much difficulty in continuing their university studies in Russia or in Eastern Europe.  Click here to read more.

· Because you like having fun! Give your curiosity and your sense of fun free reign as you savor pelmeni, play shakhmaty, or greet your new friends with “Kak dela?” Travel abroad to try authentic Russian activities: camping in wildwood, ice fishing, skiing, skating, snowboarding, and of course, Russkaya banya! Travel there to see beautiful old-style Russian cities with an amazing architecture (read a sample article here)

· Because you’d like to learn about Russian Music and Dance Styles:

Traditional: The Russian-speaking world features a diverse array of traditional music and dance. Even Russian folk songs are full of Romany (gypsy) and Jewish influences. Traditional Russian dances include the Troika, at three-person dance that is named after a sled drawn by three horses, and khorobushka or korobeiniki, a dance in pairs set to a traditional tune. Some of the most famous traditional Russian instruments are the balalaika, a three-stringed triangular guitar, and the domra, a four- or five-stringed instrument used to play melody. Watch a few great samples: classical and contemporary.

Contemporary:  During the late Soviet era, Russian rock groups like Kino,  DDT,  Nautilius-Pompilios  and Akvarium arrived on the scene, to the great distress of the Soviet authorities. After a brief period in the 80s when the music scene was dominated by pop and dance music, rock reggae and other styles are experiencing a resurgence. Remarkably, songs of the rebellious decade of 1990th are alive until now, even abroad, translated into English. 

· Because you'd like to learn about Russian Festivals/Holidays:

The most popular Russian holiday is Noviy God, or New Year’s. This is an important family holiday, much like Thanksgiving is in the U.S. Everyone gathers together to celebrate around a festive table.

Maslenitsa, or butter week, is a favorite celebration marking the end of winter. Thin pancakes with various fillings are consumed in abundance, and carnival atmosphere prevails.

International Women’s day, March 8, is also a major holiday. Like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day in one, this national holiday involves candy, gifts, banquets, and assorted celebrations of women from co-workers to wives to mothers.

The most reverent holiday – 9 May – Victory Day.  With over 20 million Russian lives lost in Great Patriotic War, memories are still painful in every Russian family. Victory Day is celebrated with military parades and big festivities in honor of WW-2 veterans. The broad support for many events celebrating the war heroes even in the early 21st century indicates that the victory in the Great Patriotic War remains of everlasting value to the Russian people. Click here to open an interesting article about Russia’s involvement in WW-2.

Due to the many years of communism, religious holidays are not widely celebrated, although Orthodoxy has become something of a de-facto state religion. Easter and Christmas are becoming more popular, though, Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the holidays two weeks after their western counterparts, according to Julian calendar.  Islamic, Buddhist and Jewish holidays are also celebrated by members of those religions, which have longstanding communities in Russia.

· Because you’d like to learn about beautiful Russian Crafts/Folk Art!

The most famous Russian folk art items are probably Matryoshki, or nesting dolls:

Nesting dolls_3_or142   Nesting dolls_3_product_detailed_image_3948_1916   Nesting dolls_3_or144Nesting dolls_3_product_detailed_image_7683_5434

Other folk art, generally referred to by the name of the city where it is traditionally produced, includes:

Rostov enamelsprecious miniatures, which have for centuries adorned church utensils, household objects and pieces of jewelry

Rostov enamel_korobeinik_m  Rostov enamel_Plat   Rostov enamel_Prince_Vassilko  Rostov enamel_Morozko

Khokhloma – red and gold lacquer painting over carved wood

khohloma_Cockerel-shaped_scoop         khohloma_1       khohloma_Set_of_fish

Palekh – black lacquer painting over carved wood

palekh_Troika       Palekh_fevronia_m        Palekh_Fille-allait

Gzhel – blue and white ceramics

Gzhel_horloge  Gzhel_beurrier_azarova   Gzhel_teapot_goldcoq_m    gzhel_gavrusha_m

Zhostovo trays –  skillful hands of Zhostovo masters have turned this household utensil into a work of art

  Zhostovo tray_ovale_bleu     Zhostovo tray_still_life      Zhostovo tray_toptigina_m

Dymkovskaya Igrushka   brightly colored toys made of clay

dymkovo_couple_m          dymkovo_forgeron         dymkovo_pig_boy_m

and carved and painted wooden toys, like Bogorodskaya Igrushka :

Bogorodskaya igrushka_balda_pop        Bogorodskaya igrushka_masha_bear        Bogorodskaya igrushka_Golden_cockerel5

and modern Folk Art toys :

modern art toy_boy_balalaika_s     modern art toy_doll_kostroma_s     modern art toy_woman_cookies_s        modern art toy_devoushka_podnos_s

Vologda lace –  smooth and flowing Vologda laces were always notable for their characteristic ornaments. The main feature of those laces is delicacy. Local lace makers created lots of transparent nets that served as ground and types of laces that looked like a frosty window or blossoming garden, or a meadow full of flowers. But they are not spider web like. Made of firm flax or cotton threads, Vologoda lace are strong and weighty

Vologda lace_nappe_ronde      Vologda lace_manteau      Vologda lace_bordure1

Shawls are also a traditional folk art, with different regions known for different styles — the most popular being the flowered shawls from Pavlovskii Posad :

Pavlovo Posad_spi-1439-2    Pavlovski pasad shawls_untitled      Pavlovo posad_spi-1488-13

and delicate knit goat’s wool shawls from Orenburg :

orienburgh shawl_mvUkhhvBdztFEvn7jHxcttw       orienburgskiy platok_10         orienburgh shawl_mbUnopM2bAzgbLmS4lpdRMw

and of course, the most beautiful Russian icons 

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Russia inherited the tradition of icon painting from Byzantium when Vladimir adopted Christianity in the late tenth century. While icons can be created in various kinds of material, including mosaic, the typical icon is a form of painting on wood. More info on icons could be found here.

So, “Why to Learn Russian?”  –   to discover this beautiful culture and spirituality!

Is it hard? Is the language that difficult?   –   although Russian language is complex, at the same time, it is well-structured and melodic which makes it easy to learn!

Click here to read more on the topic of “the most difficult languages to learn”