Location of Russia
The History of Russia
Visit the website for From: Forest Oak Middle School, Maryland at The History of Russia
and the World Fact Book for Russian facts.
St. Petersburg is a city of haunting magnificence, an imperial capital that seems to have been built as a monument to its own passing. Less than three centuries have passed since Peter the Great began building his grand city on the Gulf of Finland, but it is difficult to visit its vast, crystalline squares and palaces without feeling the enormity of the gulf that separates that time from our own. All of which, of course, makes St. Petersburg more evocative of Russia's past than any place except perhaps the Moscow Kremlin. This impression is only deepened by a more familiar acquaintance. The enigmatic homeliness of Peter's cottage and the city's placid canals may contrast with the brooding grandeur of the Winter Palace, but they share with it a graceful stillness that is difficult to forget.
As the vast evergreen forests of Russia's Siberian taiga extend southward toward Mongolia, the ground rises and the terrain becomes more varied. The border between Siberian Russia and Mongolia is a natural divide here, with rugged hills and mountains forming series of wrinkles between the sprawling Russian forests to the north and rolling grasslands to the south. About midway along this border, in a gigantic stone bowl nearly four hundred miles (636 km) long and almost fifty miles (80 km) wide, lies almost one quarter of the all the fresh water on earth--Lake Baikal.
In an age when adventuresome travel is becoming more popular than ever before, Russia is very rapidly becoming a favored destination for those who want to explore the awe-inspiring landscapes of the far north. All across its length, Russia's territory reaches up toward the pole, giving it a broad belt of land laying within the Arctic Circle. In northeastern Siberia and Kamchatka in particular is found some of the richest and most beautiful terrain in the country--mountains, lakes, and rivers, all abundant in wildlife.
Visitors to these regions gain the opportunity to see a much different Russia, a country more evocative of Jack London than of Catherine the Great. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, travel to remote areas has become easier than ever before. In the last five years alone, the northeastern part of the country in particular has gained international renown for its excellent fishing, hunting, and expedition travel.
The means of travel themselves are a central part of the pleasure of any visit, starting with the Great Trans-Siberian Railway. Traditional horse-drawn sleighs remain a common mode of transport in many parts of Siberia and the Far East, and in northern towns dog sled races provide the backdrop for great festivities. There are plenty of choices for those who want to escape civilization altogether and focus on the beauty of the land itself. More vigorous travellers can go trekking through nature preserves ruled by bears and moose, or hike the slopes of active volcanoes. Those who prefer their adventure to be a bit more leisurely can enjoy cruising to the north pole on a mighty ice-breaker leaving from the port city of Murmansk. Whether you finally make that great journey to the pole or simply spend a relaxing week casting for salmon, a visit to the Great Russian North will be an unforgettable experience.
Please visit this website for information on Moscow: Moscow, the capital of Russia
Russia's flag (sometimes called the "Imperial flag") was adopted on August 21, 1991. It consists of three equal horizontal bands of white (on the top), blue and red. The height is two-thirds the width.
The design of the flag is over 300 years old and was first used by Peter the Great (it was adapted from the flag of the Netherlands). It was the official flag of Russia from May 7, 1883, until November 1917, when the communist Bolshevik revolution took place. When the communist regime fell, the old tri-color flag was reinstated.
The Cyrillic Alphabet was named for St. Cyril, although there is some dispute as to whether this is the alphabet he invented or not. Cyril was a Greek monk who, with Methodius, brought written language to Christian converts in the mid-9th century (c.860) in what is now Russia. The Cyrillic alphabet is closely based on the Greek alphabet, with about a dozen additional letters invented to represent Slavic sounds not found in Greek.
In Russia, Cyrillic was first written in the early Middle Ages in clear-cut, legible ustav (large letters). Later a succession of cursive forms developed. In the early eighteenth century, under Peter the Great, the forms of letters were simplified and regularized, with some appropriate only to Greek being removed. Further unnecessary letters were expunged in 1918, leaving the alphabet as it is today&emdash;still in use in many Slavic Orthodox countries.
(Letters in parenthesis indicate the English transliteration of the Cyrillic letters.)
We don't celebrate Christmas so much in my country. But we do go out sometimes and play with the snow because January is the coldest month. We celebrate New Year a lot more than Christmas. On New Year's day we put a lot of glass balls and other glass stuff on the Christmas tree. We count to twelve while the clock rings twelve times at twelve o'clock in the night. We also put chocolate candies with paper around them so you can hang them on the tree and when it's time to eat then it feels like the tree is giving candy to us. In Russia we pretend that Santa Claus gives us presents. If you translate the Russian Santa's name you will get something like Grandfather Frost.
Education in Russia
Russian Ice Slides
Rollercoasters can trace their origins back to the russian ice slides. Russian Ice slides, which first appeared in the 1700's were amusement devices found at fairs all over Russia. A slide consisted of a steep drop made entirely of ice, occasionally a few creative people added a small series of bumps at the end. The rider rode in a sled that was made either of wood or ice, with ice being common. Sand was placed at the end to slow the sleds down. The person sat on a straw patch and held on to a rope tied through a hole drilled in the ice block. These early rides were quite popular, and soon flourished. At this time sliding down the slides was a risky business and required skill on behalf of the rider, so skilled guides made their services available to novice riders for a fee.
While these slides grew in popularity in Russia, a French businessman, decided to build an Ice Slide in France, unfortunately the French climate was not suited to this and the ice soon melted, leaving what some have dubbed a "slurpee slide". Not discouraged, he decided to build an all weather version of the ride, using a waxed wooden slope and hills, and a wood sled with rollers on the bottom. This perfectly simulated the Russian version and allowed for wide-spread exposure, as well as some private and indoor models to be built. Just as with the Russian version however, skill was needed to drive the sleds, so accidents were common. Strangely, however, the more accidents these early French rides had, the more people were drawn to them.
The next step was to create a crude track structure to insure each rider goes down in a straight line, as planned, and improving the safety by avoiding collisions. During this time a racing model was made with two people sledding from the same high point, taking opposing curving drops down to the ground level, and then through a 'helix'. This ride proved immensely popular and wagering was even made on who would finish first.
During this early point in coaster history, the first attempt at a loop-the-loop was made in France, in the 1850's. This ride called the Centrifuge Railway, featured a early coaster car (a seat attached to a chassis) that would travel through a loop with nothing but sheer centrifugal force holding both the car to the track, and the rider to the car. This idea was quickly stopped by wary government officials who stopped it's introduction after one accident.
The first Russian nesting doll (matryoshka) was born in 1890 in the workshop "Children's Education" situated in Abramtsevo estate new Moscow. The owner of Abramtsevo was Sava Mamontov - industrialist and a patron of the arts.
The end of the 19 century in Russia was a time of great economic and cultural development. Mamontov was one of the first who patronized artist who were possessed by the idea of the creation of a new Russian style. Many famous Russian artists worked along with folk craftsmen in workshops Mamontov.
Once at a tradition Saturday meeting somebody brought a funny Japanese figurine of a good-nature bold head old man Fukuruma. The doll consisted of some other figurines nestled one another. It had 7 figurines. There was a legend that the first doll of such type on Island Honshu where Fukuruma was brought from was made by unknown Russian monk.
Really, this type of nesting toys was well known before - Russian crafters turned wooden Easter
Russian wooden dolls within smaller dolls were called matryoshka. In old Russian among peasants the name Matryona or Matriosha was a very popular female name. Scholars says this name has a Latin root "mater" and means "Mother". This name was associated with the image of of a mother of a big peasant family who was very healthy and had a portly figure.
Subsequently, it became a symbolic name and was used specially to image brightly painted wooden figurines made in a such way that they could taken apart to reveal smaller dolls fitting inside one another
In some books it is often mentioned that the first matryoshka was made by hand. It is far from being truth. As a wooden forms for matryoshkas are turned it is consider that some mechanic tolls must be applied. Really for this operation were used and still are used quite primitive lathe (machine). The idea is that a suitable piece of wood is fixed in a rotating shaft and then is worked out. In old times a shaft was rotated using water (like a mill) or force of people. Now the same lathes are used but they are moved by electricity engines.
The basic technique of matryoshka making remains unchanged. As a rule matryoshkas are made from lime, birch, alder and aspen. Lime is the most abundant material. The trees chosen to manufacture matryoshkas are cut down at the beginning of Spring, usually in April when the trees are full of sap. The felled trees are stripped of their bark leaving a few rings to prevent the wood from cracking. The logs prepared in this way with their butt-ends smeared over are arranged in piles with a clearance between them to allow aeration. The logs are kept in the open air for two years for medium size matryoshkas. If a master is going to make a large doll with thin sides (15 and more pieces) he takes for it a log that dried about 5-6 years and even more. Only an experienced master can tell when the material is ready. Then the logs are cut into work pieces for matryoshkas.
Every work piece can be turned as many as 15 times before the matryoshka will be ready. Making a doll on a turning lathe requires high skills, an ability to work with a beguilingly small set of tools- an axe for hewing a piece of wood to make an appropriate round shape of a work piece and some chisels of various length and shape. The smallest figurine which cannot be taken apart usually is made first.
Lets imagine that we have a piece of dried soft (Lime tree) and Are going to turn a matryoshka. Simple primitive pictures are intended To help you to imagine how it is made. See how they are made.
Russian craftsmen have been making nesting dolls since the mid-1700s. This lovely and entertaining art form has won a multitude of awards and hearts worldwide. The raw material used in making the dolls are Lime logs, which are air dried for several years. Every piece passes through as many as 15 turning operations. The turning is all done by hand, and by eye. No measurements are involved. All of these operations require great skill and patience. The doll is then allowed to dry before being primed and painted.
These dolls also make a wonderful and educational toy for children, developing their coordination skills and the sense of shape and size.
"Matreshkas" carry a rich tradition and always turn into family heirlooms.
Food of Russia
1 cup dry white beans
3 large beets
1 can (10 oz.) sauerkraut
3 to 4 large baking potatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 dill pickles, chopped
1/3 cup salad oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
In large pot, cover beans with water; boil until tender. Drain and set aside. Wash and peel beets. Place in saucepan, cover with water; boil until just tender. Drain and chop into 1/2-inch cubes; set aside. Peel potatoes and place in saucepan, cover with water; boil until tender. Drain and cut into 1-inch cubes; set aside. Drain and rinse sauerkraut. In large bowl, combine beans, beets, potatoes and sauerkraut with remaining ingredients; mix well. Chill and serve.
(SERVES 4 TO 6)
RUSSIAN RED BEET AND POTATO SOUP
3Ž4 cup white beans
7 cups water
2 cups red beets, cooked and shredded
3 large onions, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1Ž2 cup carrots, diced
1 1Ž2 cups potatoes, diced
1Ž2 lb mushrooms, chopped
1 1Ž2 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups tomato juice
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp vinegar
Wash beans; soak overnight in water. Rinse and drain. In large soup pot, cover beans with cold water and cook 1 hour or until tender. Drain. Return beans to soup pot and add 7 cups water, beets, 2 chopped onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, tomato juice, garlic, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons oil; stir well. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes or until beans are tender. During last 15 minutes of cooking time, sauté remaining onion in 2 tablespoons oil until lightly browned. Add vinegar and browned onion to soup, stir well. Return to low boil for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
3Ž4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
2 cups flour
1Ž4 tsp salt
4 to 6 Tbsp ice water
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
3Ž4 lb ground beef
2 hard-boiled eggs, minced
1 1Ž2 tsp dried dill weed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp water
For pastry, cut butter into pieces. Combine flour, butter, and salt using a knife or pastry blender. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons ice water. Form into ball as you would pie dough. May need to add remaining 2 tablespoons water. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. For filling, sauté onion in 2 tablespoons butter until soft. Add ground beef and sear until light gravy forms. Let cool. Mix in egg, dill, salt and pepper. Place pastry dough on floured board; roll out into rectangle. Fold over into thirds. Roll out again into rectangle. Continue rolling and folding five times. Rewrap in plastic; return to refrigerator for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease baking sheet. Roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough using 3 1Ž2-inch round cutter. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling on each pastry circle. Fold dough over making half moons; press together edges together using ice water to seal. Place pies on baking sheet. Whisk together egg yolk and water; brush pies with egg wash. Bake about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
(MAKES 20 PIES)