Etiquette

Russians are sticklers for formality. They’re also rather superstitious. Follow these tips to avoid faux pas.

  • Visiting homes Shaking hands across the threshold is considered unlucky; wait until you’re fully inside. Remove your shoes and coat on entering. Always bring a gift. If you give flowers, make sure they're an odd number – even numbers of blooms are for funerals.
  • Religion Women should cover their heads and bare shoulders when entering a church. In some monasteries and churches it’s also required that they wear a skirt – wraps are usually available at the door. Men should remove hats in church and not wear shorts.
  • Eating & drinking Russians eat resting their wrists on the table edge, with fork in left hand and knife in the right. Vodka toasts are common at meals – it’s rude to refuse to join in and traditional (and good sense) to eat a little something after each shot.