In some Russian traditions, the first snow is delivered by angels; special angels sprinkle the first snow over a town or area. So, it was a pleasant exchange yesterday when a reader sent along a “first snow” greeting from Saint Petersburg.
To outsiders it may be difficult to understand why Russians welcome the beginning of winter weather. Oh, to be sure, we lament the ending of pleasant summer weather and the activities that we can enjoy in summer. But, the first signs of winter remind us that before too long the New Year will arrive. The New Year celebration is our favourite holiday.
Then today another reader, this one from Kirov, announced their first snow. A few hours later a reader from Nizhniy Novgorod informed us of snow there. Just before our publishing deadline we received reports of snow in Murmansk, Yaroslavl, and Astana. Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan. So, with this many reports of Первый снег, could this be the start of a trend?
For readers who study Russian language, this is a good time to acquaint you with some key Russian winter phrases:
Русская зима = “Russian winter” and sounds like Rus-skaya zi-MAh.
Первый снег = “First snow” and this sounds like pyer-viy synek.
Another favourite tradition is to thoroughly clean house rugs with the first good coat of snow. A common practice is to gather up those small rugs from inside an apartment, and take them outside to be cleaned in the snow. Some housewives hang their rugs out to catch the snow, but more often you can see rugs being laid face down on the show, and then a good “beating” with a broom is administered. While this may seem superstitious to some, the snow that was under the rugs does get quite dirty in the process–so perhaps there is some logic to the practice.
With that, we will join the refrain and wish you С первым снегом (with the first snow!).