Valenki were the footwear of choice for many Russians, especially for those in rural areas . In valenki, the Russian army stood its ground to victory over Napoleon in 19 century and Hitler’s forces in the 20 century. Even nowadays Valenki are still part of the winter uniform in some parts of Russia. However, popularity of valenki in the 21 century reaches beyond military and rural style – similar to the uggs, valenki is a footwear that makes a strong statement. The rebel fashionistas wear valenki with trendy garments for a look that stands out from the crowd.
Valenki is traditional Russian winter footwear. Made of sheep’s wool, these warm felt boots have been worn by generations of Russians in the winter. Valenki are best suited for dry, brisky cold weather. For centuries they shod the feet of peasants and tsars.
Valenki are often worn with rubber galoshes to protect the felt from wetness and to add extra resistance.
Russian valenki date back to the 18th century when the first pair was produced. Mass production of valenki started in the end of the 19th century when factories were opened.
Traditional valenki are black, grey or white. Handmade valenki are reputed to be of the highest quality.
How valenki are made:
Traditionally, the Valenki
-maker puts a piece of combed wool on the table, and with additional strands on top creates a template. He doesn’t cut it out, or use scissors, needles or thread, just strand over strand.
In the 20th century, improvement in technology allowed manufacturers improve valenki’s water resistance whilst retaining the advantages of the felt. Modern valenki can have a wedge platform or even heels. Valenki are favoured by many parents: children can be warm while skiing, throwing ice-balls or making snowman, having these Russian boots on.
“Dumb as a valenok” saying
The word valenok is a part of an idiom. If somebody calls you a valenok, don’t be flattered. Despite all the wonderful qualities of this Russian boot, valenok means unsophisticated, dumb person, as the footwear itself seems to be very simple and coarse compared to more elegant shoes.
Samovar is a large metallic container in which water is kept hot for laid-back drinking sessions. The tea is kept in a concentrated brew in a teapot on top and is diluted with water from the main container to make cup after cup. Once it’s all brewed, you place a cup under the tap, run the tap of samovar and get a cup full of high-quality tea. Samovars range from the 1 litre in size up to 400 and are made in a huge range of shapes and designs.
Samovar has a central role in Russian culture: all Russians love drinking tea and have it with milk or lemon and sugar accompanied by a variety of tea time treats. In the modern world tea sachets give you a quick drink in 5 minutes, but nothing compares by brewing your tea in a teapot, and the poshest way is to make it in samovar. This huge metalic container is now used on special occasions. You can have electric kettles and those working on fire.
People spending their time in datchas, which are houses in the countryside with a lot of land, use the real-deal samovars, and it’s not uncommon to use and old boot to fan the flames.
The origins of the samovar aren’t entirely clear, though most signs point to Russia or central Asia. The word is Russian though, and it literally means “self-boiler”.
Samovar’s spiritual home is the city of Tula, south of Moscow. There, in 1778, two brothers, Ivan and Nazar Fyodorovich, made their first Samovar whilst working in their father’s metalworking and brass factory. Within the year Nazar had registered the Samovar manufactory and the designs of the two brothers were followed by set benchmarks for the craft thereafter. The Fyodorovich brothers probably weren’t the inventors of the Samovar, but they were its first recorded manufacturers.
There is a proverb in Russia that reflects both the popularity of the samovar and Tula being the city where samovars are produced. The saying goes like this: “To go to Tula with your own samovar” which means to bring your own stuff to the place where this very stuff is in abundance and of higher quality. Think about going to a yoga class in a posh resort, and brining your own worn-off yoga matt. Or something like that. You can read about tea time treats on our website. Happy tea drinking
The Russian telnyashka (Russian: тельня́шка) is a undershirt horizontally striped in white and navy blue colors. Telnyashka be sleeveless or not. It is an iconic uniform garment worn by the Russian Navy, the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) and the Russian Naval Infantry (marines).
First telnyashkas appeared at the days of sailing fleet and the stripes were of various colours. This pattern allowed sailors on board to see the actions that the sailors are making working high up with the sails. The sailors often knitted teylnashkas themselves to entertain themselves off the shift. This was a calming and relaxing pass-time.
In the beginning of XVIII century almost outfit in almost all European fleet was standrartized. In Russia telnyashka was then abandoned, the sailors were to ware tight leggings, kaftan robe and cylinder hats. Wearing stripped telnyashkas was punishable.
The new outfit was not comfortable, but telnyashka got back to favour only in XIX when the Dutch sea suites got populrazied. The Dutch outfit comprised of short pea coat, blue flannel jacket with a low neckline, shirt and black bell-bottomed trousers.
Russian sailors were wearing telnyashka under the Dutch-style shirt with a V-neck вырез (the stem Telnyashka <- telo (rus. Body) ). The sailors were treating this outfit with pride and wore it on special occasions, when they were to dress up.
Dating back to the 19th century Tsarist Navy it was subsequently worn by the Soviet successors of these troops.
Telnyashkas are worn today by fashionistastas who like to combine the white and navy blue garment with other accessories and matching colours.
The Orenburg Shawl (or wedding ring shawl) is a finely knit lace-shawl made with down-hair of Orenburg goat and a base thread (usually cotton or silk). Orebnurg shawl is one of the classic symbols of Russian handicraft, along with Tula Samovar, Matrioshka, Khohloma painting, Gzel, Palekh, Vologda lace, Dymkovo toys, Rostov finift (enamel), and Ural malachite. Other symbols include balalaika musical instrument, navy striped t-shirt, ushanka hat, a bear, valenki boots
The finely knit Russian hanidcraft originated in the Orenburg area about 250 years ago, in the 18th century. Orenburg shawl was first introduced to the audience in 1857 and gained high accolades.
The fleece to make shawls is taken from Orenburg goats, and this is one of the thinnest fleece fibers in the world. Angora goat is a similar breed to Orenburg goat, and Angora fleece – which is called Mohair, is 22-24 microns in diametre, whereas Orenburg goat fleece fiber is 16-18 microns! The fine quality of Orenburg fleece can be explaind by frosty winters and blizzards, typical of Orenburg area, as well as goats diet – vegetation of mountain steppes of the Urals.
Interestingly enough that the attemps to breed Orenburg goats elsewhere failed. The French attempts to breed the goat in France in XIX were unsuccesful, the goats turned into usual goats with thick coarse fleece due to the soft climate of France.
There are several types of Orenburg shawl
- fleece shawl — grey (sometimes white) thick and warm shawls. Such shalws are worn as a casual everyday element of outfit. You feel cold at home or in the office – this shawl will keep your back and shoulders warm for sure.
- lace Orenburg shawl (pautinka, wedding ring shawl) – this is a lace goat fleece shawl made from goat fleece and shawl. Such lace shawl is worn for celebrations. It is very fine and it is not recommened to put a jacket over it – take it in a small bag and put it over you shoulders when you have arrived at your destination point. This accessoire to your party dress will undoubtedly make you stand out! make
- stole shawl — thin lace Orenburg shawl but slightly narrower. Also worn as an expensive and formal accessoire.
Stamp with Orenburg shawl pattern
Pautinka (паутинка, En. cobwed) and stole shawls are very thin shawls with a complicated pattern and are worn as an acessoire or jewelry. These shawls will suit any dress. Pautinkas usually have 2/3 of fleece and 1/3 of silk. Silk increases the strength of the shawl. The shawl knit in the traditional fashion is so fine that it can be pulled through a wedding ring, hence the popular name in the Western world.
Handmade pautinkas have unique pattern and is an original piece of art. A good knitter can knit two kerchiefs – pautinkas (“spider lines”) of medium size or three tippets a month.Each shawl presents a picture of the Universe the way the knitter imagines it. Because of the high cost of down hair and yarn, an original hand-made Orenburg shawl or kerchief is an expensive item. This would be a great present or accessoire.
22 March 2015, Amsterdam – Rossotrudnichestvo organization jointly with Jelena Koezjmina, Member of the Dutch Council for Russian compatriots and Ilona Cherepanova, founder of the ‘Russian Culinair’ community, hosted Lente festival dedicated to welcoming spring. The event was primarily organized for former USSR citizens residing in the Netherlands and took place in the building of the Russian Trade Representation.
Spring equinox celebrated by many nations was the theme of the event. The Slavs used to welcome the spring and baked traditional pastry in the shape of lark birds. Turkic nations celebrate Nowruz – the festival with a thousand years long history, stemming back to zoroastrianism. Even in Holland the “official” arrival of the spring is celebrated on the 21-22 March.
The festival was opened by the officials. On behalf of the Federal Agency Rossotrudnichestvo Zurab Agirbov welcomed the guests and said how happy he was to see such events happening on a regular basis. He has invited the guests to the planned events in May to commemorate the Soviet soldiers who have fallen in the Netherlands during the Second World War. More details on the upcoming events can be found on the official Facebook page of Rossotrudnichestvo (https://www.facebook.com/rossotr.netherlands).
The speech was followed by Alexandr Cherevko, Head of the Trade Representation of Russia in the Netherlands. Mr Cherevko also greeted the guests who have gathered to foster traditions and friendship. Alexandr Chervko noted that the Netherlands remain a major economic partner of Russia. To promote business relations between the two countries the Trade Representation, being a part of the Russian Embassy, hosts regular events. The goal of such events is to provide consulting assistance to the entrepreneurs who look for entering the new markets and search for business partners.
After the opening ceremony the guests enjoyed buffet snacks and socialized. Live guitar concert by musician Vera Borisovskaya continued the festival.
The concert was followed by a lecture of Ilona Cherepanova, Russian Culinair, and the representative of the catering the Silk Road Kitchen. Ilona told the audience about traditions of the pagan Slavs and Central Asian cultures when celebrating the spring equinox. The chef of Silk Road Kitchen, catering specializing in Uzbek delicacies, said that in the East hospitality starts with the rich welcoming table.
Then the audience voted for the best pastry – traditional lark cakes and a pie with poppyseed stuffing, which was made by the little guests.
To crown the Festival the guests were welcomed to the table filled with exquisite dishes typical of Russia and Central Asia. Salads such as Olivier, Dressed Herring, pilaf rice and various sweet and savoury pastry were the highlights loved by everyone.
The guests enjoyed the delicious meals and each other’s company with the karaoke background.
MyRussianFood.com was one of the sponsors of the event.
Organizers of the event:
Jelena Koezjmina, Member of the Dutch Council for Russian compatriots, RUS in NL Facebook group administrator – event organizer and spiritual leader of the Lente Festival
Ilona Cherepanova, Russisan Culinair – organizer
You can order Uzbek meals, sweets and pastry from the company Silk Road Kitchen.
Joing MyRussianFood.com on Facebook and check out our recipes!