Russia is a country of contrasts and peculiarities. Many people on the internet romanticize Russian and Slavic culture and point out the sometimes harsh and bizarre reality of daily life in the region. A reality that no longer makes anyone living there so much as blink anymore. That’s where the ‘A Normal Day in Russia’ subreddit comes in.
An online community of over 1.15 million members, r/ANormalDayInRussia celebrates Russian culture with all of its weirdness, uniqueness, and moments that will have you going, ‘What in the world did I just see?’ Keep in mind, though, that the subreddit focuses on entertainment first and foremost: the stereotypes shown here don’t necessarily show the full width and breadth of living in the country. These photos do, however, indicate the culture shock you might get if you ever do visit.
Scroll down, upvote the pics that made you laugh or left you impressed, and let us know in the comments what you thought of this list. Just remember to keep it light when it comes to all the complicated politics, that’s not what the subreddit or this list is about: the aim is to celebrate cultural quirks and interesting daily life. Got your ushanka hats ready? Then let’s go, PanDAs.
Bored Panda reached out to the r/ANormalDayInRussia moderator team and one of its members was kind enough to go into detail about the idea behind the subreddit in more depth. As the moderator put it, the community isn't just about "bears and vodka" and doesn't want to focus on just these harmful stereotypes. You'll find their comments about steering away from negative content while keeping people entertained below.
The subreddit moderator told Bored Panda that r/ANormalDayInRussia is a very welcoming, inclusive community that has room for absolutely everyone, no matter their country of birth.
"We have a mixed team of moderators, some are actually Russian, some are not. But we are all about inclusion, everyone welcome," they told Bored Panda.
According to the moderator, one thing that sets Russians apart is their directness that's mixed in with warmth. "Russian people are direct, they will not hide their feelings and they will tell you what's on their mind, without sugarcoating. Yet, they will welcome you with open arms and treat you as part of the family," the sub mod noted.
One of the biggest ongoing challenges in the online community is finding the balance between quirky stereotypes and those that are downright harmful. "We are trying to steer away from negative content and try to highlight the actual normal day in Russia, the beauty of the country, and the people who live there," the moderator shared with Bored Panda.
"It's an ongoging challenge," they said about avoiding posts that focus just on the stereotypes. "We would like to keep people entertained, but at the same time, we are weeding out bad content."
I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert on Russian culture—far from it! However, what I can do is share some of my personal insights from my trip to Moscow years and years ago. To put it simply, the part of Russia that I experienced was a land of contrasts: jaw-dropping wealth and heart-breaking poverty existing side by side. Fancy restaurants full of well-off Muscovites can be found just around the corner from Soviet-era bloc houses with tiny shops on the first floor, selling just the essentials.
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The parts of Moscow that had the biggest impact on me were the local museums, the gorgeous parks, and the beautiful churches. You can’t deny that it’s a city of culture. At the same time, it really is a global city: you’ll find pretty much any store, shop, or chain restaurant that you’d expect to see in London, Paris, or New York. However, Russia is incredibly vast and Moscow doesn’t represent the entire country (though, of course, certain parts of the city might certainly do).
TikToker Alyssa, who lives in the US and is half Russian and half Ukrainian, previously told me that Russians can be very direct in how they communicate. “In my experience, Americans who visit Russia are surprised at how directly Russians communicate. Russians say what they mean and don’t go out of their way to cushion your feelings the way that Americans are trained to do. Russians tend to value ‘honesty’ over ‘niceness,'” she told Bored Panda.
“There is no one ‘right’ way to live. Everything is relative. Everything goes! Oh, and of course, the other best way for people to connect is food. Lots and lots of food. Burgers and borsch,” Alyssa said.
The ‘A Normal Day in Russia’ subreddit has been around for quite a while now. Established way back in 2013, it will be celebrating its 8th birthday on November 8. That’s an incredibly long time for any online community to exist and the member count shows that the sub is bound to stay strong for a long time in the future, too.
The subreddit invites internet users to share photos, videos, and gifs of everyday occurrences in Russia, as well as the surrounding areas around the country. The moderators point out that you get “bonus points” for your post if what you post is uniquely Slavic and “not common in the rest of the world.”
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While some people might find common ground with the experiences redditors post on r/ANormalDayInRusia, no matter what part of the world they live in, the subreddit still encourages users to share things that are unique to the region and found nowhere else on Earth.
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The moderators point out that you really ought to keep it civil. Russians stereotypically swear a lot, but that’s not what the sub is about. And it’s certainly not what’s expected of the community members in their interactions with each other. “Be excellent to each other and party on,” the mods urge, adding that respect is very important.
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If you’re planning on joining the subreddit, there are some additional rules that you should take to heart. For one, the content that you post definitely has to be about Russia or regions that previously used to be under Soviet control or influence. Or, as the moderators put it, your posts should be something that Slavs stereotypically would do.
Alright Fair Enough
However, the people helping manage the community stress that there can be no bigotry whatsoever. The subreddit is about celebrating the quirks of living in the region and does not condone promoting any hateful stereotypes. Similarly, you should also avoid overusing well-known memes like “meanwhile, in Russia…” or “in Soviet Russia...” As the moderators so eloquently put it, “It gets horribly overused here. In Soviet /r/ANormalDayInRussia, post deletes you.”
The moderators also ask that you keep any political discussions light-hearted. “There are many places where we can discuss the politics of Russia, but this is not one of them. The reason for this is that every single thread would divert into the same political arguments, and we'd never get to discuss the fun [stuff] that is going on in the posted content,” they explain the simple logic behind this.
What’s your opinion about daily life in Russia, dear Readers? Did you enjoy the content that the ‘A Normal Day in Russia’ subreddit shares? If you’ve ever visited the country or if you live there, why not share a bit about your experiences there. You can let everyone know what you think in the comments.