Superstitions and Rituals of Russian Students
It is funny but students in Russia have their own "set" of superstitions. Some of them may be ridiculously absurd but they make Russian students' life fun and relieve the stress of studying. Some of them are rituals related to taking exams and earning good grades. Here are the most common superstitions.
The most common student's superstitions in Russia are related to personal hygiene. You must not wash yourself (especially the hair) the day before the exam or the same day as the exam is taken. Taking a shower before the exam is really considered to be a bad thing to do – no luck during exam is guaranteed.
A student that is going to take an exam must not wear any new clothing as it scares away good grades.
A student that is going to take an exam in Russia must not cut fingernails the day before the exam or the same day when the exam is held.
Another superstition, or rather a ritual they have the night before the exam, is related to a Russian concept of “халява”, which means a “freebie” - an occasion when someone receives a good grade at the exam without taking any effort. In Russia they believe that such a “freebie” should be caught. So the night before the exam, sharp at midnight, Russian students hang out of a window, open their students' record-books, shake them in the air and say: “Ловись, халява, большая и маленькая!” - “Come here, freebie, big or small!”. After the “freebie” is “caught”, the record-book is closed and should not be opened by anyone except for the examiner at the exam next day.
There is also a common belief in Russia that if you are sleeping on a book, the knowledge will somehow be transferred into your mind. That is why many Russian students sleep on tutorials, books and examination questions the night before they take the exam.
Many Russian students know which hand is the lucky one for them. So when the time comes at the exam to pick up a sheet with an examination question, they pick it only with the lucky hand.
There are even some special places which are supposed to be lucky for students. In Moscow there is a bronze dog (Metro station Ploshchad Revolyutsii) which is supposed to bring luck in examinations. That is why students come and rub the dog's nose for good luck before the exam. In Saint Petersburg student of the military school climb the monument of the Bronze Horseman and have to rub the private parts of the horse for good luck before the exam.
Of course no rituals can help a student that does not study. But these little cultural traditions make a student's life more colorful and enjoyable for the students.