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Symbols and Traditions

National symbols and traditions

The State Flag of the Russian Federation is a tricolour flag of three equal horizontal fields, white on the top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom.
The flag was first used as an ensign for merchant and war ships and only became official in 1896. It was replaced during the October Revolution which established a Bolshevik government. From that time period, a red flag charged with communist symbols was favoured over the tricolour. It was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the tricolour was brought back as the official flag of the new Russian Federation.

State symbols of Russia include the double-headed eagle combined with St. George of Moscow in the Russian coat of arms; these symbols date from the medieval Moscovite Tzardom times. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Moscow claimed succession to the legacy of the Eastern Roman Empire. Ivan III married Sophia Palaiologina, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI, and made the Byzantine double-headed eagle his own, and eventually Russian, coat-of-arms. Russian flag became widely used since the reign  of Russian Emperor Peter the Great (18th century). Red Banner continues to be honored as a symbol of victory over Nazi Germany in Great Patriotic War. Russian anthem shares its music with the Soviet anthem though the lyrics differ.  Imperial Russian motto “God is with us” and Soviet motto “Proletarians of the whole world, unite!” are no longer in use and no new motto replaces them. Signs of the past Soviet time such as red stars, hammer-and-sickle and other symbols of labor are still widely seen in architectural decorations in Russian cities.

Matryoshla doll considered to be a recognizable unofficial symbol of Russia. Cheburashka — a famous character of children’s literature and animation — recently became a mascot of Russian national Olympic team and will be the symbol of the Olympics-2014 in Sochi. Walls and towers of Moscow Kremlin and St.Bazil’s Cathedral on Red square stand for main  Russia's architectural symbols. Birch tree and a chamomile often associates with national flora. Symbol of the bear is a national personification of Russia. Russians have many traditions, among them is bathing in banya — a hot steam bath similar to sauna. Old Russian folklore takes its roots in the pagan beliefs of ancient Slavs and later turned into the Russian Fairy-tales. Many of them were adapted for animation films, or for feature movies. Some Russian poets, like Alexander Pushkin or Petr Ershov, created fully original fairy tale poems of great popularity.

Russia's large number of ethnic groups has distinctive traditions of folk music. Folk music had great influence on the Russian classical composers, and in modern times it is a source of inspiration for a number of popular folk bands. Russian folk songs as well as Soviet-time patriotic songs constitute the bulk of repertoire of the world-renown Red Army choir and other popular Russian ensembles. 

Since the late Soviet times Russia had experienced a wave of Western cultural influence, which led to the development of many previously unknown phenomena in the Russian culture. Russia easily had adopted a number of cultural techniques, while preserving its own content.

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