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Truth and Myths About the Siberians

A chapter on how Siberians tempered their spirit, but remained good-natured, and about how beautiful the mysterious Siberian soul is...

Who is a real Siberian? Residents from other countries might envision a typical Siberian as a tough man who fearlessly braves the harsh cold of the taiga, walking through freezing temperatures of -40 ºС, unafraid of encountering bears. Although the myth of bears roaming the streets is a long-standing joke, it still exists.

Residents of the European part of Russia have their own stereotypes about Siberians, which are more realistic. Before delving into the stereotypes, let's first take a brief look at history.

The origins of stereotypes about Siberians

The vast territory of Siberia itself has shaped the mentality of its inhabitants and influenced their character traits. Since the exploration of Siberia, starting with Ermak's campaign in 1582, the way of life in this region has been absolutely different. The absence of serfdom, the challenging natural conditions, the necessity to fight for survival, and the interactions with indigenous populations have shaped the Siberian character, imbuing it with qualities of endurance, stamina, industriousness, and independence.

Some historians have noted the presence of cunning and even a certain degree of adventurism among the Siberians who voluntarily migrated to Siberia in pursuit of freedom, wealth, and a better life.

The stereotype of Siberians as courageous and fearless people was solidified in the 20th century, particularly after the Great Patriotic War, when the significant contribution of Siberians to the collective effort was widely recognized.

Myth No. 1. The people of Siberia have a harsh character

The climate has taught the Siberians to be reserved and introverted. They prioritize efficiency and practicality, valuing actions and tangible results over unnecessary words and gestures. They are not accustomed to relying on chance or luck alone or as they call it "Russian somehow". Instead, they understand the importance of being proactive and planning ahead, just like in a proverb – prepare the sledge in summer and the kite in winter. But despite their seemingly reserved demeanor, many who have had the opportunity to meet Siberians note that they have never encountered kinder and more hospitable people.

Myth No. 2. Siberians love when it is cold

Not that they love cold weather, but rather that they have adapted to it due to the harsh climate being a regular part of life in Siberia. Through their experience, Siberians have learned that in order to cope with cold weather, they have two choices: Either dress warmly, preferably with a fur coat and a warm hat, or embrace the cold and engage in activities such as ice hole swimming. But deep down, every Siberian is always longing for summer.

Myth No. 3. All Siberians have good health

Siberia is an environmentally pristine region, and its inhabitants have always enjoyed abundant nourishment and the opportunity to relax in the numerous resort areas of their bountiful land. However, besides climate and nutrition, our health is also influenced by social factors, working conditions, and the level of self-care and attention we give to our health.

Myth No. 4. Siberians are afraid of long distances

The vast distances between major cities in Siberia have fostered a spirit of resilience and adaptability among its residents. They have become accustomed to traveling long distances for work or to visit friends and family. If you ask a resident of Novosibirsk whether they are willing to travel to a friend's place in another city that is 300 kilometers away for a weekend, their response would likely be: "Easily! It's not that far!"

Myth No. 5. Siberians act only in their own interests

The challenging climate, vast distances, and demanding work in Siberia foster a culture of mutual assistance and responsiveness among its residents. They genuinely empathize with others' problems and are always ready to help in any way possible.

5 fun facts about Siberians

1. When two Siberians from different cities call each other, the first thing they discuss is the weather. The one who has it worse is considered the unofficial winner. That is the ritual of politeness!

2. In Siberia, particularly in small settlements closer to the taiga, a unique tradition has emerged where instead of cracking sunflower seeds, people enjoy cracking and eating pine nuts.

3. Among Siberians, there is an unspoken distinction between those considered "true" Siberians and those who are perceived as "less true". Residents of large cities are not true, but the Siberians who live around Lake Baikal and in the permafrost zone are considered to be true.

4. There is a general belief that it's advisable to avoid conflicts with residents of certain cities like Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and Omsk, as their residents are known to swiftly move from words to actions when they feel their point of view needs to be understood.

5. Siberians are proud to be Siberians, and they even like different stories about themselves. They often perpetuate common stereotypes and enjoy sharing tall tales with guests, finding amusement in their surprised reactions. However, it is all in good spirits, and they take pleasure in lightheartedly teasing one another among themselves.

To truly grasp the essence of Siberians and discern between truth and fiction, it is highly recommended to personally visit Siberia, engage in conversations with its people, and experience the region firsthand, then maybe you will understand them a little better!