November 01, 2006

50 and Counting

50 and Counting

I know, I know, дорого яичко к Христову дню (“things are best on time”). So, yes, I am late with this Survival Russian piece. It would have been a much better fit for the recent 50th anniversary issue. But then we Russians tend to stretch the celebration of round anniversaries out into year-round affairs. So, in honor of the jubilee, let us look at the number 50.

Fifty is actually quite a venerated figure in Mother Russia. The 50th anniversary – 50-я годовщина – is always marked here en grande pompe. When someone turns 50 – in simple Russian, полтинник (from the 50 kopek coin’s face value, it can also mean 50 kopeks, 50 rubles, or 50,000 rubles), this is nothing to sneeze at. Only a centenary – столетие – can beat it. 

When, for example, Soviet Russia was celebrating the пятидесятилетие Великой Октябрьской Социалистической Революции in 1967,  it was quite an event.  And, had Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Russian Life a letter of congratulation, it might have sounded something like: “От всей души поздравляю коллектив редакции журнала Russian Life c юбилейным, пятидесятым годом. Желаю всем журналистам этого славного журнала, который несёт американцам правду о России, крепкого здоровья, творческих успехов и журналистских удач.” (“From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate the editorial staff of Russian Life magazine on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. I wish all journalists of this glorious magazine, which brings Americans the truth about Russia, good health, many creative successes and journalistic achievements.”)

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