March 01, 1997

It's the Little Things That Count

It's the Little Things That Count

It is hard to say what Russians like more – to give or receive gifts. Probably the former. After all, Russia is known for its hospitality. Surely you have heard that you should never compliment a Russian on any item in his or her home, otherwise they will do their utmost to make you a gift of it. Such is the unwritten code of Russian largesse. Which, as this column attests, has overflowed into the Russian language itself.

To begin with, here is a practical hint: when you have decided on what type of gift the occasion requires, do not waste any time. Run right out and buy the gift before it’s too late. For, as the Russians say: Дорого яичко к Христову дню (“An egg is dearest at Easter,” or, That which is most appreciated is given when needed).

Upon receiving a gift, Russians do not usually unwrap the gift at once, preferring to put it aside for a more private moment, unless, of course, the gift giver insists. Russians share the English belief that one should never look a gift horse in the mouth (дарёному коню в зубы не смотрят).

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