Russian Hospitality and Table Manners
Many centuries ago Russians observed special table manners while having a meal and inviting guests to their house. In Russia it has always been an honor to invite and fill your guest's belly with delicious food. This is why Russian people are famous for their Russian hospitality. However, the table manners were quite strict: one was not allowed to scrape out of one's dish with the spoon, to throw food remnants on the floor, or to talk loudly. Everyone had to cross themselves before eating. Big pieces of bread were also used as a plate. Guests would put pieces of meat, fish and thick food on it, and eat it after finishing the meal.
Now most of these traditions are gone. However, here are some common table manners which you should observe when you are invited to a Russian house.
If you've been given a chance to experience Russian hospitality and come to someone's house, take your shoes and outerwear off in the entrance hall and wait to be invited to follow the host.
Offering your help to the host who is laying the table or cooking something in the kitchen is a very nice thing to do and can leave a positive impression about you.
When guests come Russian hosts always offer food and drinks – this is a sign of Russian hospitality. This shows hosts' politeness and respect to their dear guests. On the other hand, refusing to accept anything that has been offered to you can be interpreted as an insult.
Russians have always been very respectful to food because getting food requires a lot of work and effort. That is why playing with food, throwing it and especially being disrespectful to bread is considered a sin. If you are taking your children to a Russian house, make sure to explain this to them, so they don't get in trouble for that.
If you are drinking tea, do not stir it loudly with your spoon – try avoid touching the sides of the cup and making noise.
Russians drink vodka straight, not mixing it with any other substances. However, you are not supposed to drink it by yourself – you should drink it socially, make a toast and clink glasses.
It is also polite to propose a toast to the present fair sex - the ladies present at the party.
Even if you don't know these table manners or forget them, Russian hosts are lenient. They may teach you what to do and will always be happy to have a foreign guest in their house.