Religion has always influenced life in Russia, just as in most other countries in the world. From pagan beliefs to Christianity, atheism and multi-confessional society, you can find the traces of this influence in our history and everyday life. Our traditions, our literature, our language вЂ“ everything reflects what people used to believe and what they believe know. And the most important thing about religion in Russia is that we have an incredible diversity of religious beliefs. You can meet people belonging to all worldвЂ™s largest confessions and even those who still believe in the spirits of ancestors or animal spirits.
Variety of Religions
Today, the major confession in Russia is Orthodox Christianity. It was brought in the 10th century, though there had been attempts to bring the word of God to the Slav tribes before. For example, according to the Church Tradition, Saint Andrew visited these lands and traveled as far as modern Veliky Novgorod. Of course, Catholics and Protestants also live in Russia, though they are not that numerous.
The second largest confession in Russia is Islam.
FUN FACT #1: Islam appeared on the territory of modern Russia even earlier than Christianity вЂ“ in the 7th century.
FUN FACT #2: Buddhism also came earlier than Christianity вЂ“ in the 8th century to Siberia.
Other religions do not have that many followers, though you can definitely meet Judaists and Buddhists, especially in certain regions of the country.
What is it important to know when visiting Russia?
If you want to learn about all this variety of religions and their influence on our culture, you should definitely visit one if the many museums. There are also magnificent cathedrals, beautiful churches, fascinating temples, sophisticated mosques and even mysterious dolmens that complement the look of our cities. Without a doubt, there are worth seeing and visiting. What should you keep in mind if you decide to do that?
As you probably know, Christian churches are open to everyone, and this is also true for Orthodox Christianity. Still, there is one slight difference: women should cover their heads. Very short skirts or shorts are not very welcome, though the rules are not that strict for tourists, especially in big cities. If you decide to visit a monastery, you will have to cover your legs completely вЂ“ with a long skirt. Men, on the other hand, will have just to bare their heads.
Islam has much stricter rules. First, you can visit mosques only with an organized guided tour. Women must cover their heads, plus everyone must have their legs and arms covered. There are also some limitations to photo shoots, so it would be better to check the details with your guide.
In general, rules for visiting a synagogue are similar to other churches: arms to the elbows and legs should be covered, both men and women should cover their heads. Though this request is not so strict for tourists. Everyone can visit synagogue, though on Saturdays photo shoots are forbidden.
Buddhist temples are open to everyone, so you just need to find out the opening hours and to behave just as in any other temple вЂ“ be polite and respectful.
Pagan traditions in modern Russia
Interesting fact: there are many traditions that come from pagan times. The most famous of them is Maslenitsa (aka Butter Week), a week before Great Lent, when everyone bakes pan cakes that symbolize sun and celebrate the end of winter. There is a big festival during the week, and people invite each other to come over. On Sunday a straw dummy symbolizing winter is burnt to help spring come faster.
What else should you know about our religion before coming to Russia? Here are some most common questions.
When do Russians celebrate Christmas?
Because Russia is Orthodox, we used to have a special calendar that differed from the European one by 13 days. That is why in modern Russia we celebrate Christmas 13 days later вЂ“ on the 7th of January.В
How does religion affect business in Russia?
In general, religion doesn't influence business for there are no days off during religious holidays in most regions of the country. Still, Muslim regions may use their right to assign such days off, so it is important to learn about Muslim holidays before visiting these regions for business.
How did Communism change religion in Russia?
The main obvious influence the Communist period had on Russia is the amount ofВ atheists in the country. Till these days there are a lot of people who do not believe in any gods and are pretty sceptical.В
The policy of Communists towards religions was also harmful to our historical heritage. The destruction of temples and churches, the presectution of beleivers not only changed the looks of our cities, but also disconnected people from their roots and broke the line of cultural succession.