A Weekend at The Russian Dacha

A Weekend at The Russian Dacha
26 July 2016

For many Muscovites, a weekend in the summer means escaping the heat and crowds of the city by spending time at an out of town cottage, known in Russian as a dacha or дача. The dacha is an important place for many Russians. It is a place to relax and recuperate in the countryside and spend time with

Typical produce from a Russian dacha

Typical produce from a Russian dacha

their family. In addition, many Russians use the land around their dacha to grow fruit and vegetables. This weekend, my Russian friend and her family invited me to stay at their dacha! Obviously, I accepted the invitation immediately!

The weekend started on Friday evening when we left the city by car. After battling through some rush hour traffic we finally arrived – to a delicious meal with the whole family. The next day we enjoyed a walk in the countryside and an afternoon relaxing in the sun. In the evening we had a traditional Russian barbecue – with shashlik [шашлык] and roasted vegetables. Overall, the weekend was a very relaxing experience and it was a wonderful escape from city life. One can clearly understand why so many Russian city dwellers leave for the dacha whenever they can!

A brief history of the Dacha

The tradition of the dacha is believed to have begun under the reign of Peter the Great, who granted plots of land to his loyalest subjects. Following the Russian revolution of 1917, land (including plots with dachas) became public property, but the tradition of the dacha still continued. Workers had the chance to relax at publicly owned holiday properties. Many high ranking communist party members were granted a dacha by the state. Following the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s, the tradition of the dacha continued to grow and thrive with many new dachas being built in communities near to Russia’s big cities.

The Dacha in Literature

Many of Russia’s famous writers immortalised the Russian dacha in their works. Anton Chekhov wrote a short novel called Dachniki, or Summerfolk, in 1885 about the idyllic way of life at the Russian summer cottages. Later, in 1904, Maxim Gorky wrote a piece of the same name. In it, he criticised the excesses of the lifestyle of those retreated to lavish dachas in the summer months.

Thank you to understandingrussia.com for some extra information on the Dacha tradition!

Megan Beddoe, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Moscow

Posted by Megan Beddoe

Hi! I'm Megan, a university student from the UK, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Language Centre in Moscow. My parents live in a small village in Kent, but I go to university in London. I started learning Russian just nine months ago, but I never dreamed I would be spending summer in Moscow studying it! I study history at university, where I have become very interested in Russian history, especially Peter the Great, the Decembrists and Siberia throughout Russian history, so I hope to write about everyday history in the city while I am here. My month in Moscow is the perfect way to absorb as much Russian culture and history as possible, so I can go back to university ready for my final year and to write my dissertation on Siberian Exiles in 17th Century. Outside the classroom, I enjoy playing sports - I have fenced for England and Great Britain and I am captain of the LSE Women’s Basketball Team - and I also love to travel. My favourite places (aside from Moscow of course!) have been Cape Town, for its immense natural beauty, and Budapest, for its fun atmosphere! I love to try local food wherever I go, so I hope to be blogging about the culinary delights of Moscow during my stay here.

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