May 01, 1997

It's Spring, Say Thank you to the Party!

It's Spring, Say Thank you to the Party!

Time was, Russians would bless the Communist party for everything they had (or did not have). So, whoever took the floor at the rostrum of a communist meeting (dedicated to the spring field work, to the completion of the Five-Year Plan, what have you) would end his speech with a mandatory “thanks” to the party. This gave birth to the satiric short poem: Зима прошла, настало лето – спасибо партии за это, which can be translated as “Summer has come, winter is gone – so we owe the party one.”

It might be appropriate at this point to cite the spring-related idiom about “not believing anyone on April 1” (see “He Who Laughs Last,” page 171), but that deals more with humor than with seasons. But Russians are not very trusting in March either. At least they don’t trust the weather much. March is considered a very treacherous month: the sun does shine, the snow does melt, but it’s still usually very cold, hence the folk wisdom, На дворе марток, надевай трое порток (It’s March outside, so put on three pairs of trousers). This is to protect against the cold icy wind.

Speaking of winds, when someone – usually at the sight of some enemy, nemesis or persecutor – dissappears all of sudden, Russians say “его как ветром сдуло” (“he was blown away by the wind” – of course, not to be confused with the lyrics of the Bob Dylan song). If someone is hard to catch or find, a cynical person might advise you to “go and chase the wind in the field” (“ищи ветра в поле”). And if a “blowhard” gives you a lengthy, reprimanding lecture, take heart in the Russian saying собака лает – ветер носит (the dog’s barking is carried away by the wind).

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