Contrary to the awesome American custom of “Hey, it’s my birthday — everybody take me out to dinner and buy me drinks!,” in Russia it is the duty of the birthday guy/gal to throw a small feast for friends/ colleagues/ relatives. Actually, for all of the above.*
This past Friday saw a birthday of two of my colleagues…
Gorgeous birthday girls!
…which meant there was a lot of feasting to be had, in the office, over the course of several hours. This is what it looked like:
A table of zakuski: pickled vegetables, three different kinds of herring, two more kinds of smoked fish, mushrooms, various breads, berries, fruits and nuts.
The salmon pie was AMAZING. Russians are generally great with savory pies. Not pictured: two huge cabbage pies.
A table of drinks: red, white and sparkling wine, cognac, two big bottles of Zbiten (see below), kvas, and some berry juice. Also bowls of carved-up watermelon and ‘torpedo’ yellow melon for dessert.
Zbiten’, or Sbiten, is an alcoholic drink from the olden times, made from rye or honey or a combination of both. It used to be served hot in winter; now it’s sold chilled, in big plastic bottles, just like any 7%-alcohol soda. We had 4 liters, in case we got really thirsty.
And some cranberry pie, to finish the party on a sweet note!
I love my job.
Speaking of birthdays, here are some fun/ crazy birthday traditions from around the world: http://mentalfloss.com/article/52335/7-birthday-traditions-around-world
*The birthday person does get a ton of flowers and gifts from everyone, or a really nice collective gift.