July 01, 1997

The Bear's Favors and Favorite Meals

The Bear's Favors and Favorite Meals

Come summer, Russians rush to the dacha, where they work like crazy in their individual garden plots (участки). Actually, it is more appropriate to say “they work like bees” (трудятся как пчёлки), for the bee never sits idle during its short (30-40 days), but bright life.

Perhaps it is little wonder that Russians, often stereotyped as a country of “bears,” use their language to pay tribute to the bear’s favorite meal, honey. Okay, so Russians don’t call their loved ones “honey” (a simple дорогая – “dear” – will do), but honey-related idioms are deep-rooted.

Regular readers of this column will recall how to say “honeymoon” – медовый месяц  (see page 127), supposedly the happiest period in one’s conjugal life. Of course, this is not always the case, for, as Russians say: сколько мёд ни говори – во рту слаще не станет (no matter how often you say the word honey, it doesn’t taste any sweeter in your mouth).

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