HAPPY HOURS

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!

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

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.

The salmon pie was AMAZING. Russians are generally great with savory pies. Not pictured: two huge cabbage pies.

A table full of drinks: red and white wine, sparkling wine, cognac, two big bottles of Zbiten (see below), kvas, and some berry juice.

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 a honey-based alcoholic drink from the olden times. Made with spices and jam, it used to be served hot in the winter; now it's sold chilled, in big plastic bottles, just like 7%-alcohol soda. We had 4 liters.

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!

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.

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19 thoughts on “HAPPY HOURS

  1. I kind of like this tradition (until it’s my birthday). Do you know why this tradition exists? I’ve never heard a satisfactory reason!

    • No clue, actually I never even asked! Probably something about spreading the joy/ love/ wealth of your holiday? It was actually kind of a ‘culture shock’ when I came back – the closest I came to dealing with it as a child was bringing sweeties for my classmates when I was in school. But back then it was technically my mother’s concern.

  2. Pingback: ON MAGNETIC STORMS AND POLITE CONVERSATION | Home & Away

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