It may seem that the fact that Russians never say hello to strangers on the street is just incivility. However, the reality is somewhat different.
Russians do not say “hello” on the street and do not respond to greetings of strangers. Of course, a greeting and a smile from a Russian on the street is a rare phenomenon. Let’s try to understand why that is.
Do Russians Really Never Greet Strangers on the Streets?
If we are talking about big cities, then no, almost never.
In small towns and villages the situation is quite the opposite. It is considered absolutely normal to greet every passerby on the streets, at the same time younger people will try to be the first to greet a senior as a sign of respect, and local people will be the first to greet visitors to help them feel comfortable in a new setting.
Interestingly, this is characteristic not only for the Russians, but definitely for the Americans, Swedes, Germans and others national. If they say hello, that means they come from small towns.
In what Circumstances will Russians Greet a Stranger on the Street?
In large cities a greeting from a stranger on the street most likely means that he needs some assistance or favor from a passerby. It could be an innocent question about how to get somewhere. Or it may be an attempt to steel your wallet under some pretext. It might even be an invitation for a religious gathering. And, of course, it could be an attempt to hit on a member of the opposite sex. That is why Russians are wary of such greetings.
Russians are Very Soulful People
Many foreigners have noted that under the Russian visible inapproachability hides real sincerity and genuine hospitality. Indeed, if you are invited to a Russian home, you will notice how courtesy, kindness and generosity towards guests will sharply contrast with the usual cold and reserved demeanor of the people you see on the streets.
Often right after the first couple minutes you will find that Russian people are very open and always willing to help, which is one of the national characters of Russians.
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