Saturday, December 13, 2008


I was planning to make this posting sometime in September in honor of my friend's wedding. Well, it is already December, Jess and Al are already back from their honey moon and are just about to buy their first house... LOL! Nevertheless, a post about what a Russian wedding *looks like* may still be interesting to some of you. The wedding topic can be its own blog, there are a lot of traditions associated with the weddings and there is definitely a lot going on during the celebration. This post is merely an outsider's view on a wedding and a few tid bits about the actual process.

Just like in the U.S., the prime time for the weddings is late spring through early fall. The typical "wedding" day is Saturday and the celebration lasts for at least two days. It is considered to be bad luck to see the bride the night before the wedding, so if the couple already lives together they usually spend the night apart. On the wedding day the groom and his party come to the bride's residence and have to "bribe" or "ransom" groom's way in. Everyone does it differently, but the idea is to present the groom with games and obsticles, where he either has to pay money to get through, give gifts (flowers, candy, wine, etc), or do silly things. Some of the fun games are: groom having to guess which lipstick imprinted kiss on a board belongs to his bride or having to guess your future mother-in-law's opinions on peculiar topics (anything to get the relationship with the mother-in-law off to a good start!). Eventually, after the formal greetings between the families, the entire party heads to ZAGS (civil registry of the weddings).

In order for the marriage to be recognized, it has to be registered at ZAGS first, a blessing in church can follow if the couple chooses to do so. I think more and more couples now prefer to do a church ceremony too. Immediately after the marriage and then throughout the entire celebration, the crowd chants "Gorko" ("bitter"), which is a signal for the couple to kiss. In my humble opinion, "sour" would make more sense because of puckering up for a kiss :)

Here is a picture from last summer of a random couple heading to ZAGS (behind them are their "witnesses" or their best man and maid of honor):

After ZAGS, the couple and the party drive around town visiting landmarks and friends/relatives who couldn't come to the wedding. This is a chance to show off the couple and pay respect to people who matter the most in the bride and groom's lives. Our apartment building is next to a memorial to the fallen WWII soldiers and just about all of the wedding couples in town come there to take pictures. So on Saturdays you can sit on our little balcony and observe one wedding after another for hours. Usually the party and the newlyweds take several decorated cars (the longest I've seen so far is 15 cars in a row), ride in-line and constantly signal the horn to announce their celebration.

So here are a few pictures for your amusement. Decorated cars (notice the two wedding rings at the top of the car):

A picture of some random lady that made into the shot (do you think the shirt is a bit too short?):

View from our paratment of a wedding car caravan parked by the roadside. I think it is the same wedding couple as pictured above (what a coinsidence, considering pictures were taken hours apart):

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Does it really snow in Russia?

Have to admit, that for as long as I lived in Wisconsin, I always said "I hate cold!". This year would be the same story - my WI family, friends, and co-workers are burried in who-knows-how-many feet of snow at the moment, my husband has been spending half of his work day on clearing out the cars at his dealership, and I hear endless stories of cars getting stuck in their driveways. So the logical question is how is the snow situation where I am?

Compared to WI, our weather has been much cooler since at least September. However, we still have no snow on the ground! Below is the picture of our first snow on November 19th. It stuck around for about 3-4 days and was all washed away with rain. The temperatures were in the upper 20s - low 30s today, which is the coldest they've been in a few weeks. Frankly, cold temperatures are a blessing, because then the mudd on the streets will freeze and I'll be able to tell the color of my boots when I get home from running errands. And judging by the stories of people here, the winter is likely to continue in the 15-20F range with few days with *really* cold weather. Who would've thought that I'll find warmer climate IN RUSSIA?

First snow: view from our apartment balcony (notice mom's blooming flowers in the window!).

First snow: view from my bedroom window.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Most of you would agree that my signature hairdo is a ponytail :) So I decided to change it up and got a haircut last Friday. This is much shorter than I am used to and bangs require some constant work, uggg... but in my opinion, the stylist did a nice job. Honestly, I was a bit nervous getting a haircut over here - there are so many women whose hair is of odd shape and some bright color, and you just never know if they did it to themselves or if some stylist had a bad day. The salon was nice and quiet, a lot simpler than most U.S. salons. So after about an hour, roughly 6 inches of hair on the floor, there I was...