Having grown up in a Russian household, over the years I've gained an understanding of Russian family dynamics and lifestyle. After drafting a list of items that all Russians can relate to, I decided to share my cultural background with the public.
1. Grandma always asks you if you're hungry.
You ask grandma for a snack, she gives you a tray of candies. You tell grandma you're hungry, she unpacks the whole fridge in an instant. You say no? Well, you know never to say no. Because if you do say no, get ready for an artillery of food coming your way and lots of scolding for being underweight.
2. The dinner table overflows with food at family gatherings.
You think this table is filled to the brim with food, but you're very sure that you could fit at least ten more plates in those empty crevices. All of a sudden you get thirsty and realize that there are no drinks on the table. Then you remember that all the juice and alcohol is on the floor because there is no room for it at the table.
3. Even when plates are literally spilling over each other, your grandma still thinks there isn't enough food.
It has become so normal in your daily life to see plates spilling onto plates that when you go out to eat or come to a non-Russian friend's house for dinner, you feel like something is missing from your life.
4. You eat sour cream by the spoonful.
Your friends eat ice-cream or peanut butter by the spoonful. But no; there's only one thing that you will ever eat by the spoonful— a sort of Russian oath. You eat sour cream like its dessert whenever its available, and do it with your family too.
5. Your designated tea sugar-bowl is always full.
You drink a lot of tea, which means you drink a lot of sugar too. A force inside of you cannot bear to see an empty sugar bowl. After every time you spoon sugar into your tea, you automatically refill the bowl with sugar like it's a Pavlovian effect.
6. Tea time at your house is all day, every day.
You regularly drink 5 to 6 cups of tea a day, and black tea is your drink of choice. You always have a cup of tea following you around at home, and never forget your 24oz thermos on the go. You drink so much tea it practically makes up your bloodstream, and your dentist hates you because of how stained your teeth are at every check-up.
7. You eat straight up cloves of Garlic without wincing.
You eat garlic like apples or chips. You have also learned that people have a difficult time speaking to you because of your garlic breath, but you've learned to live with that. In fact, your breath emits Garlic so often that you've become immune to the smell.
8. There's never a shortage of soup in your fridge.
Soup isn't just dinner for you— it's breakfast and lunch too, and maybe even an evening snack. There's always soup in your fridge. In fact, you've created a permanent V.I.P parking for that delicious chicken bouillon.
9. You eat bread and butter more than the average human.
Bread and butter to you is like peanut butter and jelly for Americans: it's your staple. You eat bread and butter for breakfast, lunch, sometimes dinner, or as a snack. There is never a shortage of butter in your fridge, and if you were ever to run out of a loaf, your home would erupt in chaos.
10. You live with the whole familia.
Family living is something that you are incredibly acclimated to. You likely live with your grandparents, parents, siblings, and even cousins under one roof. You are also very close to your family. Many Russians live in big families in a single home.
11. Toasts are more like speeches and can last for several minutes.
You know the second grandpa opens his mouth and holds up a glass of wine that you are about to receive Homer's "Iliad." Not only does Grandpa toast to you on your birthday, but he also congratulates the entire family, goes off on a tangent, and before you know it, you are half asleep.
12. You were raised not to wear clothes that you would normally wear out of the house, inside the house.
You were raised with the concept that there are two types of outfits, not fab and drab, but indoors and outdoors. What you wear outside never enters the home, as it contains germs from the outside world that dare not contaminate your clean home. You also wear the exact same "at home" outfit every single day.
13. You never wear shoes in the house.
You know that shoes are gross, covered in fecal matter and who know's what kind of bacteria from the outside world. Shoes are meant to only be worn outside, never inside. Not only is it gross to track in germs and mud, but you know that your feet need to "breath," so you take those shoes off and let your metacarpals relax.
14. You have a "New Years Tree" for the new year that confuses your neighbor's into thinking it's Christmas even though it's not.
It's a tradition of yours: you always put up a New Years Tree on New Years that looks exactly like a Christmas tree but is not. You don't know why this tradition started, but you know it's fun to decorate a tree for no reason. Also, you will trick your neighbor into thinking it's Christmas.
15. You could probably start a black market for plastic bags.
Every time grandpa comes home from the store, he brings back a bucket full of plastic bags. The cabinet under your sink is crammed with a barricade of plastic bags. Why all the bags? First of all, they are free, and second of all, you never know when you'll need a thousand plastic bags. Better safe than sorry!
16. You don't even think about going outside during winter without Michelin Man padding.
You were raised into believing that if not every centimeter of you is covered in the winter time with three layers of padding, you might contract a deadly virus or cold and die. Also, if you dared to leave the home without all that padding, and grandma was watching you, she would probably have a heart attack.
17. Your family raised you to always stay away from air vents and wear slippers or risk severe illness.
You know that you will probably be just fine if you walk around barefoot at home, but for some reason, you're scared not to. God forbid you get a cold that leads to something more severe. Also, you know you will get weird stares from your family members if you don't wear your slippers.
18. You never show up to a guest's house empty-handed, even if it's just for a short hello.
For whatever reason, it makes you feel bad if you show up empty-handed at a friend's house. So you are always sure to bring a gift, or two, or more... besides, maybe if you give your friend's a gift, you'll get one in return.
19. You love Soviet cartoons.
Your favorite thing to do on the weekend with the fam is watch your classic Soviet cartoons. For you, there's nothing better than curling up in a blanket on the couch and watching your childhood play out right before your eyes.
20. You know who this adorable little fuzzball is.
This is how you test people if they are truly Russian: you ask a Russian if they know the name of this insanely cute, taxonomically unidentified animal. If they don't know what it is, they aren't Russian. Period. End of story.
21. Your family always looks on point when going out, even to the grocery store.
You take your appearance seriously and so does your family. You always try to look nice wherever you go. Wearing leather or furs to the grocery store is not weird for your family. You treat your visits to the store as hypothetical extremes: what if the president show's up? Wouldn't you want to look nice?