As I somewhat expected, internet was not something I could count on while I was in Russia. Because of this, I was unfortunately not able to post my blog posts while abroad. However, I did write them while abroad, which is why the timing of my blog posts is a little strange… I hope you can oversee this as I will post them in the order that I wrote them. I hope you enjoy!
I have now spent a week in Moscow and I have found that there are a lot of aspect I could write about, but after spending an hour of walking around at the MSU Botanical Garden, I was inspired by my surroundings to write about flowers and their importance to Russian people. Just after spending the first day walking around Alexander Garden, it was apparent that flowers played a special role in Russian culture. The people were eager to take pictures amongst the flowers as well as just take pictures of the flowers themselves in order to celebrate this special time of year. The people line up to take pictures with the flowers around the city and I also noticed while walking around in the city that there are a lot of flower shops – some of them even open 24/7.
As I understand it, flowers are an important part of Russian social life. You never go to a person’s house without flowers or some other gift. You are supposed to bring flowers for your date in Russia and it is also customary to give away flowers on holidays such as New Years or International Women’s Day. With this being said, it is apparent that flowers are very valuable in Russia from a cultural point of view. I think this has a lot to do with the climate in Russia as flowers will only grow during a certain time of the year and therefore can symbolize beauty and nurturing. Flowers are so delicate and organic and require care for them to grow beautiful so giving a gift of flowers might symbolize this feeling of love and respect. However, this custom of giving flowers is probably also mostly a product of long line of traditions.
I think seeing this has helped me understand the Russian mentality better and how Russian people value the symbolism of flowers. I have never seen such a strong bond to nature, and the relationship with flowers came as a surprise to me. Everywhere I saw flowers or other plants growing, the atmosphere seemed much calmer, which I think stresses the importance of creating a sustainable environment that can support both its population, while maintaining a healthy and sustainable milieu. The experience made me personally motivated to promote a healthier life on land, which is goal number 15. Although the technology behind creating a sustainable environment is necessary for the progress of the goal, I believe that it will never come into effect until there is a social support and movement for a sustainable environment. I think that the Russian mentality is strong in this area, and I think it is mainly the support of the people that has made this type of environment possible. If other places would cherish its environment in the same way, I believe that we would be closer to goal number 15 – protecting and restoring life on land.