Nov/Dec 2018 Current Moscow Time: 23:48:36
17 November 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving thanks: Russian beauty, culture, and cats

by Alice E.M. Underwood

Giving Thanks

Since this week’s TWERF falls on Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to extend a special thank you to everyone in our “tribe” – all our readers, customers, suppliers, writers, photographers, illustrators, and supporters and fans of all stripes. A company like ours does not exist for 25+ years without the support of an avid tribe. So thank you for your continued support, encouragement, challenges, ideas and constructive criticisms. And best wishes for you and yours through the holiday season and into the new year.

Paul E. Richardson

The Salt of the Earth

1. See Setomaa: The region of Setomaa straddles the Estonia-Russia border, and is home to a people with a unique culture. Polyphonic singing, Seto-specific royalty, a mix of pagan and Orthodox belief systems are just a few things that set apart the Setos, who blend ancient tradition with new customs to preserve their cultural identity.

2. Worth its salt? Don’t take it for granted when you flavor up your turkey. Salt is a thing of proverbs and history in Russia, having been a symbol of power, a source of taxation, and a namesake for towns from Solvychegodsk to Krasnousolsk. Find out how salt fits in tradition, superstition, and the kitchen in Russia.

3. Russian roots and branches: As illustrious folks as sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov, co-founder of Google Sergey Brin, and film stars Woody Allen, Leonardo diCaprio, and Natalie Portman come from Russian stock. As for branches, plenty of famous figures from non-Russian background have studied the language, too – whether for a career, like politicians Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, or just for fun, like Olympic fencer James Williams.

In Odder News

Cat on a hot tin T-34 tank? This innovation in feline fun looks exciting to climb on, but will it lead to kitty militarization?

Sakha, in northeast Russia, can boast the coldest temperatures recorded in the northern hemisphere. But people still live and follow traffic signals, even in the permanent frost.

Speaking of frost, this fall’s unusually cold conditions made soccer a whole different sport. But who knows? Maybe snow soccer will be the next big thing.

Quote of the Week

“Eat more salt, and your life will be merrier.”
—Russian proverb, which gives helpful life advice and proves the importance of salt in Russian culture.

Now eat up, and happy Thanksgiving!

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

The spy who stayed out in the cold
The spy who stayed out in the cold

Some people see spies everywhere. Other people just see dumpsters, birds, snow, dogs, boars, or artists seeking political asylum. (That's at least 4 separate stories).

Bacon, comics, and fairy tales on ice
Bacon, comics, and fairy tales on ice

Adapting to life in Russia? Comic books. Craving cuteness? Piglets getting saved from a fire. Not Russian enough for you? Ice swimming. And for good measure, zombies. 

Blogging Bears, Ivan the Terrible Rapper, and a Blob
Blogging Bears, Ivan the Terrible Rapper, and a Blob

A polar bear travels the world, a historian serves up the Rhyme of Troubles, the Kremlin gets a new alien, and Presidents Putin and Trump get along by the skin of their teeth. 

Buddha in a blizzard, tsar in the tropics
Buddha in a blizzard, tsar in the tropics

A Buddhist monastery in the mountains fights one millionaire, and Kiribati's islands welcome another one. There's also exorcism, the Facebook of 1917, and general happiness. 

The Kremlin on Ice
The Kremlin on Ice

Convicts carve up the Kremlin, an assassin wins a prize, and governors drop like flies. Actually, that all sounds a lot worse than what happened. Find out for yourself. 

100 Years Ago, In a Monarchy Far, Far Away...
100 Years Ago, In a Monarchy Far, Far Away

Exactly 100 years ago, on February 23, 1917, the Russian Revolution began. And once you've learned about that, there's space, WWII reenactments, and a portal back to medieval times. 

Cats, droids, and acrobatic rock & roll
Cats, droids, and acrobatic rock & roll

A friendly robot graces the metro and a politically charged (and financed) dance studio gets footloose thanks to the youngest Putin. Also, happy World Cat Day!

Say no to discrimination, ducks, and hugs
Say no to discrimination, ducks, and hugs

International Women's Day was celebrated by marches, flowers, and flash mobs. In other news, Russia and China are BFFs, and Prime Minister Medvedev likes ducks.