*** Russian boys clothes -- activities

Russian Boys' Clothes: Activities

Russian field trip art museum
Figure 1.--These Russian children have dressed up for a visit to an art museum. The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts had a special children's program. In thsi case it was an exihibition of children's art.

Russian boys like boys in other countries often wear destinctive clothing for a variety of activities. Soviet-era boys wore school uniforms, but this is less common in Russia today. Young Pioneer uniforms were basically the same as the school uniform. The Pioneers are now gone, but Scouting has appeared in Russia on a small scale. After school boys took off their uniforms to put on their play clothes. There is destinctive sports wear and uniforms as well as choir and dance uniforms. Russia is particularly noted for ballet. Boys dress up for special occassions which now includes attending church or outings of various sorts.

Specific Activities

We have begun to collect information on a variety of actvities in which Russian children participated.


We have chronicled the terrible crimes of the Soviet Union. There were some Soviet progrms that were positive. Many of these related to children. Soviet policy creatly expanded the school system and educational opportunity. They also instituted dy care for workers' families. Thus included summer day care when school was not in session. The facilities and arrangements varied widely. Often plants created day care and recreational facilities for workers and their families. This might be seen as summer day camp in the United States. The Soviets eventuaslly created a huge summer camp program, although much of this occurred after World War II. It was a program created through the Young Pioneer program which eventully provided every child the opportunity to attend summer camp at virtuallu no cost.


HBC has very limited information on the Orthodox choral tradition. We do know that there were choirs before the Revolution. Rich noblemen are known to have maintained boy choirs. After the Bolshevicks seized power in 1917, church boys' choirs were no longer possible as the Church was not allowed to prostelize among young people. There is a long tradition of classical music in Russia which was also promoted by the Soviet Union. There were thus some seccular choirs, although HBC has as yet little information on them. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there has been some increased interest in liturgical music. Several choirs now exist in Russia. HBC has noted choirs in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, but there may be others as well.


There are a variety of dance styles popular in Russia. Russian boys for some reason are more interested in participating in dance than boys in the West. I am not sure just why that is. I think perhaps the arts have more cache in Russia than the West. Also popular values are likely to manifest themselves in the democratic West--an interesting phonomenon in thst the Soviet Uniin was susposed to be a state dominated by the proleteriat. Russia is particularly noted for ballet, of course a dance of French origins. Interestingly the Soviets effectively trained dancers of amazing capability. Many of their most talented dancers, however, complained of the restrictions of the state operated institutiins on their pergeormances. Several high profile dancers defected to the West. While the Russians are best known for their contributions to ballet, there are other forms of dance in which boys participate. Russian folk dancing is also popular, although at this time we know very little about it. The children perform in brightly colored peasant style costumes.


Russian boys, like boys all over the world, like to fish. There is no much chasnce for this for boys living in the big city. But boys in rural areas have a lot of opportunities to fish. Rural Russia is well endowed with lakes and rivers. A good example is a Russian boy in the 1970s.


The celebration of holidays in Russia has been significantly affected by political regimes. Tsarist Russia focused on the celebration of religious festivals such as Easter and Christmas. The Tsar's bithday was probably also celebrated. After the Revolution (1917), the Soviets celebtated New Years, Labor Day, and the Revolution. I am not sure to what extent Comrade Stalin's birthday was celebrated. There were of course major changes in Russian holidys after the Communist Revolution (1917) and likewise after the fall of Communism (1991) there have been changes as well. Today in Russia, New Years continued to be the favorite holiday for children. Authorities are also now promoting the celebration of Christmas. Dates for celebrating holidays can be quite confusing because of the different calendats that have been used in Russia. Important Russian leaders including Peter the Great and Stalin have been involved in calendar reform. Religion of course plays an important part in holiday clebrations. Here the athiest campaign of Soviet Communism has a great impact on Russian holiday celebratons. Hopefully our Russian readers will tell us more about the holiday observations.


Russia has played an important role in the world of classical music. As in dance, the Soviets very effectively trained skilled musicians. Russian psychologists addressed the question of how to improve the music training system. Innate talent is of course just just one aspect of developing skilled musicians. Talent has to be developed by hours of of practice. Music education was a state mission. And the Soviets were very successful. No other country produced as many virtuoso musicians in the 20th Century as the Soviet Union. One of the key intitutions was Central Music School (CMS) at the Moscow Conservatory. It began operating 1932 under the guidance of Professor Goldenweiser and Heinrich Neuhause. The CMS continues to operate in post-Soviet Russia. It is still the school that aspiring musicians, incouraged by their parents, seek to attend. Interesingly, despite all the well trained mussicians, post-Soviet Russian seems not to be an imprtant factor in the world of popular music. Perhaps language is a factor in restricting the success of Russian musicians outside the country. Hopefully HBC readers might have some useful insights here.


We have begun to collect information on popular outings in Russia. Until the Revolution they followed tthe general European pattern within the constraints of geography. We notice a range of outings popular in Russia, often as part of family activities. One such outing was to parks, although we do not yet know much about Ruissian parks. Beach outings were less common because of the climate. Russia has an extensive coastline, but as most of it is along the Arctic Ocean and Bearing Sea, it is no exactly condusive for beach hgoing. There were some beaches on the Baltic. The Baltic republics were part of the Tsarist Empire and during World War II, Stlanin seized them. There were also Black Sea resorts such as Yalta, but until the Revolution, they were only available for the well-to-do. One popular venue during the Tsarist era as in the rest of Europe was warm mineral springs. Some of the European resorts were world famous. We know less about the Russian springs.


We do not yet have information specificaly about children's play in Russia. Here we aew collecting information on ganes and toys but do not yet have much information on Eussian play. A factor here is that the photographic record in Soviet Russia is not as large as one might think for such a large country. The eason for this is so few Russian citizens had cameras to take family snap shots. Despite the claims of a worker and peasant paradice, it is in the Soviet Union that workers and farmers recrived earnings afording families to have private cameras pr afford film and processing. The reason is the ieffiencies of Communist enterprises and the huge military expenses. So thy could mot aford to take large numbers of snapshots. Much of what we have are studio poertraits. We do not yet have much information on many on the games played by Russian children, Russian children played were the same as those played in Europe. Presumably there were some destinctive Russian games, although we are not yet familar with them. We note that some Russian boys wore school uniforms. After school boys took off their uniforms to put on their play clothes. Of course climate is an important factor in Russia. The Summer season is relatively short which means that play clothes had to include cold weather items. Neither do we know much about the toys that Russian children played with We suspect that many were the same as this familiar to children in the West. Although the generally low incomes did not permit parents to purchase toys to the same degree as the West. Nor were toys available in the same quality or quantity as in the West.


We notice that American boys took a real interes in radio after world War I. Many boys built their own crystal sets. There was on advabtage to radio in that a basic set in the 1920s was inexpensive and cost next to nothing to operate. Other hobbies that interested boys such as photography was much more expensive. We are less sure about the situation in Russia. The period following the War was chaotic with the Civil War add the Soviet Government establishing its authority. There was also wide-spread poverty. So we are unsure to what extent Russian boys engaged in radio as a hobby. Nor are we sure about state regulations concerning radios. We do see a few images of boys with early radios. Some have the look of magazine illustrations, perhaps taken more for propaganda than family snapshots.


The principal religion of Russia for a millenia was Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Russia's Russian Orthodox Church is believed to have been founded by the Apostle Andrew, although this is by tradition rather than any real historical records. St. Andrew may have visited Scythia and Greek colonies along the northern coast of the Black Sea. One tradition reports Andrew reaching what was to become Kiev. St. Andrew's Cathedral today is reportedly located where At Andrew planted a cross. Better historical records show the influence of Byzabntium and the Eastern Church on Slavic lands by the 9th century. Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius translated parts of the Bible into Old Church Slavonic (863-869). This was an important step in the Christianization of the Slavs. Patriarch Photius or Patriarch Ignatios at Constantinople sent the first Christian bishop to Novgorod (866-67). Chritianity had begun to make inroads with the Kievian nobility (mid-10th century). Greek and Byzantine priests were active. Princess Olga of Kiev was the first ruler of Kievan Rus to convert to Christianity (945/957). Olga's randson, Vladimir the Great, made Kievan Rus' a Christian state. Prince Vladimir I of Kiev officially adopted Byzantine Rite Christianity (988). The Russian Orthodox Church has come to see this date as the creation of the Russian Orthodix Church. The Church thus traces its apostolic succession through the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Kievan church was a Metropolitanate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. As Kiev began to decline with the Mongol invasions, the Metropolitanate and thus the center of the Russian Church moved to Moscow (1326). While the Nongols conquered Russia, they did not attempt to destroy the Church. By the time Ivan drove out the Tartars, Russia was thorougly Orthodox Christian. The fall of Constantinope (1453) made Moscow to claim the role as the center of the Orthodox Church. Religious diversity occurred as a result of Tsarist military campaigns. Werstern rite Roman Catholics were brought into the Empire with the acquisition of the Western Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania. The conquest of Estonia and Finland brought Protestants. Catherine's success againt the Ottomans in the south brought Muslins into the Empire. The Russian Revolution brought the Communists to power who promoted atheism (1917). Stalin persued a ruthless program to supress both the Orthodoix Church and Islam. The program had considerable success, but did not suceed in totally destroying religion and there has been a revival since the fall of Commuism and the disolution of the Soviet Union (1991). Today in Russia boys dress up for special occassions which now includes attending church or outings of various sorts.


Russian elementary children used to wear distinctive uniforms, both before and after the Revolution. School uniforms for girls did not change greatly after the Revolution. Girls' uniforms consisted of a black dress with an Edwardian style pintafore white apron. Boys before the Revolution often wore a Russian revival style bloused tunic. Many schools during the Soviet era had military style uniforms. After the breakup of the Soviet Union children no longer wanted to wear the Soviet-era uniforms.


We do not know a great deal about Russian sports at this time. We do nknow that the Russians have a passion for hockey. This is, however, a game that can not be played without expensive to maintain arenas making it difficult for children to partipate. Rgather soccer appears to be the game most popular with Russian children. There are many clubs that the children can join to play sports for. Some of the popular sports for Russisn children are hockey, soccer, skiing, skating, chess, and gymnastics. We have little acrual information, but it seems that the opportunities for children to engage in sports are far more limited uin Russia than in the West. Certainly the resources once lavished on sports have been subtantially reduced. Russian newspapers lament the lack of success of Russian athletes in international competitions. Even during Soviet times, the demphasis of sports were to demonstrate the glories of the state and thus focused on identifying and training superior atheletes no on providing recreational activities for the average child. We have little information on current trends in Russian sports, but hopefully our Russian leaders will provide some insights.


Swimming is of course a popular activity with children of all ages. In Russia as with other countries in northerly lattitudes, swimming oportunities are highly seasonal. The Russian summer is very short, although this varies somewhat regionally. Russia is a large country. Areas in the south are at the same lattitude as France, although now that the Ukraine is independent, Russia has a more mortherly orientation thn the old Soviet Union. Because the summer is so short, Russian cities have popular indoor swimming pools with reasonable entry fees. I'm not sure just how much the average Russian child frquents these pools. During the summer there are also lkes and rivers used for summer outings. There is also ice-swimming. In Russia ice-swimmers are called 'walruses' (моржи), rather than polar bears in several other countries. We think ice swimming this is more popular with adults, but children do also participate. This is not only a Russian tradition. We notice similar traditions in other northern European countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia). It is commionly associated with the sauna experience. It is a way of rapidly cool off after a sauna. The experience in northern Russia is commonly associated with saunas, but not limited to it in the rest of the country. Ice swimming as well as dousing is seen as an aestic, healty experience. (American mothers might be horrified.)


An interesting topic is transportation. Here there are both economic and social connections. We do not have a lot of information here. We think the British played a role in financing Russian railroads. The Trans-Siberian Railroad was like the trans-coninental railroad in America, an engimeering project of emense proportions. River transport was also important, but the rivers generally run north and south. Thus connections with Europe were primarily made in the 19th century with the advent of railroads. The way children dressed for trips is interesting to follow. It used to be common to dress up for trips on trains and boats and in the 20th century air flights. This began to change in the 1970s when the trend for casual clothing reached transport dress as well. As regards the Soviet Union the subject of transport without mentioning the Moscow subway.


We have been unable to find much information about Russian bicycles. We believe that brfore the Soviet era that ghe siutustion was like the rest of Europe. Workers could not afford cars, but some some purchased bikes for transport. There were probably fewer bikes owned by Russin wirkers thn wiotker in the west. Few in the rural peasantry had them. With the sadvent of the Soviet Union, again we have litte information. As far as we know. the Soviet Goverment msde no efffort to produce bicycles for the population. Our informtion is limited and we would love to hear from Russian readers about the bike situation in Russia. Generally speaking Soviet priorities was not to allocate the lkimited avaialble steel for consumer products. We brlieve that few Sovirt children had bikes or trikes befpore World War II. And as the Goverment began building high rise apartment blocks. Bucycles were not compatable even of theu were available. Where would you lkeep them in a small apartment. And children could not easily transdport them up and down stairwells -- beyond the first and second stories. After World War II and the economy improved somewhat we begin to see a few Soviet kids with bikes. A Soviet friendy source reports, "This, actually, was the area where whole USSR system flawed in a most ridiculous way. Look, the giant country which was able to compete with USA in cosmic branch, couldn't produce decent bicycle. Sure, such talented engineers like Reginald Vorontsov, were doing their best, however, there were many reasons why Olympic Soviet team rode Colnagos and the quality was among biggest ones. Anecdotal fact: Cameroon cycling team was using Soviet-made "Чемпион-шоссе" (better version of common "Старт-Шоссе") while the Soviet team itself rode Colnago. Takhions were made either of Tange or Columbus tubes. Some specimens were made of proprietary Soviet tubes from Nikopol' plant. I haven't ridden one but folks at local forums don't like them for whatever reason (I guess they are ok, steel is steel, still, it's just 'no brand' snobbery). Here you can watch interview with Vorontsov himself. Pity, you can't understand what this legendary man is saying and woe on that disrespectful spokesdude." Another source reports, "One thing you got to keep in mind is that some industries totally disappeared from certain countries, only to be totally focused in other places. For instance, Hungary was assigned 'trucks', so they made a lot of trucks, but no passenger cars. Likewise, Hungary--Csepel (later to be Schwinn in another curious move) made city bikes, whilst Czechoslovakia made sporty bikes, under the name Favorit. Favorit made everything in-house, from derailers to handlebars, and a fully loaded Favorit bike is a curious sight indeed." One sosirce claims aAround 1960 a number of 'Sputnik' bicycles were imported into the United States. We are not sure what the current situation in Russia is. We believe that trikes exist. Theu are samll enough that there may be soace ina n apartment. Bikes on the other hand face thd problem that so mamy Russians libe in small jhigh-rise apartments without elevators.


Russian in the 19th and early-20th century was primarily an agricultural country. Working Russian children were thus primarily involved in agriculture. They worked as serfs until Tsar Alexander II empancipation proclamation (1861). Most continued working on agricultural estates as free peasants. There were many jobs for children such as working as shepherds. By the early-20th century, Russia was rapidly industrislizing and an inreasing number of children were working in industry.

Youth Groups

The Scout appeared in Russia in the early 20th century as in all European countries. It was, however, a very small group, primarily limited to the small middle class. The Pioneers were a truly mass movement. The Soviet Union in the 1920s was the first country to ban Scouting, replacing it with its own youth mocement--the Young Pioneers. The Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union became the largest youth movement in the world--until the Communists seized power in China. Unlike the Scouts, however, Young Pioneers quickly vanished when the Soviet Union desintigrated and government subsidies were withdrawn. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Scouting has again appeared in Russia.

Talent Development

Some of the activities here are recreational or in nature or realte to personal development for most boys. A small number of boys, however, have the inate talent and ability to develop into gifted musiscians, scholars, or world class atheletes. The Soviet Union placed a great emphasis in identifying talented individuals and then devekoping training programs to assist these children in achieving their potentials. The Soviet Union as it evolved was anything but demanding equal education for all. As it developed not only did talented individuals get access to special programs, but so did the children of important Party menmbers, government officials, and ranking military officers.


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Created: April 9, 2004
Last updated: 6:13 PM 10/20/2020