The 2014 Winter Olympics signal a great time to get into the Slavic and Russian cultures and find out how students are enjoying the Olympic spirit.
When it comes to bringing out the inner Slavic, Greg Bayles, a Russian major at BYU, said there is one reason why every student should invest time in understanding Russia and its people this Olympic season.
“Russian people are a lot like oranges,” Bayles said. “They have the bitter, outer skin, but on the inside they are sweet and juicy and some of the most tender and real people you have ever met.”
There are many ways students in Provo can get more involved in Russian culture during the Olympics.
Durak is a Russian card game played with four to six players, a perfect number for roommates or double-dates. With similarities to the card game “Scum,” Durak involves attacking other players and defensive moves.
Between serving in the Ukraine, Dnepropetrovsk mission, living in Russian-speaking housing and spending time in Moscow for a study abroad, Bayles knows how Durak is enjoyed in Russia.
“You can see old men playing Durak in the parks in Russia and Ukraine,” Bayles said. “They get really animated and throw their cards on the table.”
Students looking for a new game to play to get into the Russian spirit can grab their friends and enjoy this spirited game. Tutorials and information on game play can be found on Wikipedia and YouTube.
Go on a gulyat
Russian celebrations are diverse and unique. Some can honor the Olympic spirit by enjoying a gulyat.
A gulyat, in a word, is taking a stroll with a companion. Gulyating is a large part of the Russian culture. To gulyat means more to the Russian people than just getting from point A to point B. It’s more than just hanging out. To gulyat is to take a leisurely stroll, enjoying the company of those they care about and the scenery around them.
Throw a Russian New Year’s party
New Year’s is not taken lightly in Russia; indeed, it may be the country’s favorite holiday. Throwing a Russian New Year’s party is a great way for students to celebrate the Olympics.
New Year’s in Russia is celebrated with food — lots of it. From traditional Russian salad to herring, the Russians have it down pat when it comes to celebrating New Year’s with a full stomach.
The festivities in Russia also involve a New Year’s tree (similar to a Christmas tree), as well as Ded Moroz, who is Grandfather Frost, and his granddaughter Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden. With these mythical characters, Russian New Year’s is a unique and fun way to enjoy the holiday with their loved ones.
“Russian New Year’s is huge,” Dibb said. “Easily the biggest holiday celebration in the country. The celebration consists of lots of drinking and lots of fireworks and a bit of gift giving too.”
Russia and Slavic countries bring a unique culture to the world, and the 2014 Sochi Olympics present an opportunity for students to celebrate that culture this season.