Russian Language Blog

«Отдыхают все!» [Everybody’s on Holiday!] Posted by on Jan 9, 2010 in Culture, language, News, Traditions

At least «в России» [in Russia] and at least «до 10 (десятого) января» [until the 10th of January] it is true that «все отдыхают» [everybody’s on holiday]. Even though there was much talk in 2009 about finally abolishing those ten days that every Russian gets off in the beginning of every year «из-за экономического кризиса» [due to the economic crisis], nothing has yet changed. This means that the traditional treat to the Russian people (but not necessarily such a delight for the Russian economy) remains and is still known by most as «пьяная неделя» [‘the drunken week’]. At this time of the year in Russia it’s not business as usual but one big, long «отдых» [rest, repose, relaxation; recreation; refreshment; comfort] for everyone. At least «до понедельника» [until Monday] anyway… But what to do with all this «свободное время» [free time]? many Russians find themselves wondering somewhere in between all the official holidays that need to be properly celebrated with family and friends during these days. Obviously the 1st of January is largely taken up by tending to one’s «похмелье» [hangover], and just as obvious is it for «русские православные христиане» [Russian Orthodox Christians] that the 7th of January will be devoted to celebrating «Рождество Христово» [Christmas]. That’s «два дня» [two days]. Let’s say you’ll also need one day to prepare for Orthodox Christmas. But this still means that you only keep yourself busy for «три дня» [three days] out of ten… «Что делать?» [What to do?] Well, how about simply using this time to «отдыхать» [repose, rest, relax; (be on) holiday, vacation]? Once you’ve reached the conclusion that you agree with the usage of this verb in this context, then suddenly another question arises: «как отдыхать?» [how to repose, rest, relax; (be on) holiday, vacation?] Let’s have a look…


Why not do like «Медведев и Путин» [Medvedev and Putin] did during the first days in January and «кататься на лыжах» [go skiing]? After all, it is «зима» [winter] and most of Russia is covered in snow, though not especially hilly in many areas… This type of «отдых» [rest, repose, relaxation; recreation; refreshment; comfort] is known as «активный» [energetic, dynamic, active] in Russia.

Here you have another type of «отдых». This kind of ‘rest’ is easy to recreate in the privacy of your own home because all you need is to «собрать друзей» [gather together friends] and «накрыть стол» [set the table]. Then everything is ready for you to «проводить время в весёлой компании» [spend time in a cheerful company] and – hopefully – «поговорить по душам» [have a genuine and sincere talk] with someone… Because everybody knows nothing helps you relax as much as interacting with other people!

In Russian language (almost) each and every verb has both an imperfect ‘version’ and a perfect ‘version’. In Russian this is not known as ‘version’ at all, but properly named «вид» [aspect]. All Russian verbs (almost) have both «несовершенный вид» [imperfect aspect] and «совершенный вид» [perfect aspect]. The verb we’re talking about today is «отдыхать» in imperfect aspect and «отдохнуть» in perfect aspect. And the most correct way to «отдыхать» [repose, rest, relax] should eventually lead to a need to use the perfect «отдохнуть» instead, since if not, then no real «результат» [result, effect, outcome, consequence] has been reached. Generally speaking, the perfect aspect is always about results, whereas imperfect focuses more on «процесс» [process; operation; cause; act]. You can say something like «я отдыхал у родителей» [I rested with my parents (or: I spent my vacation at my parents’ house)] first and then explain further by commenting «из-за моей мамы я не мог отдохнуть» [because of my mother I couldn’t unwind (completely)]. If you go somewhere on holiday every year, then the verb you’ll want to use to express this is imperfect: «Каждым летом мы отдыхаем в Сочи» [Every summer we spend the holiday in Sochi]. But if you’re really tired and stressed and feel like you just need to take a day to yourself then you’ll want to make use of the perfect aspect instead: «Мне надо отдохнуть!» [I need to rest, repose; unwind, relax!]

A third way – and very funny way – to use all of this «отдых» is to watch something good, be it a movie or a show, in the movies, on TV or on youtube. Why not have a look at animated «Медведев и Путин» [Medvedev and Putin] sing and dance into 2010? What do you think?

Next week it’ll be «назад на работу» [back to work] for Russians, and for me not only «назад в учёбу» [back to school] but also «назад в Россию» [back to Russia]. Yes, I’m excited!

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  1. Vanessa:

    I loved the holidays when I lived in Russia! I usually spent a great deal of my winter break catching up on my sleep for the year. It was always wonderful to have that extra time to spend with friends!

  2. Robert MacDonald:

    Happy New Year to you Josephina,

    Thank you for such a good language blog! Next time I will gather the nerve to write you in my Russian, which has taken nine years in SPB to accumulate!

    I added you to my Recommended Blogs list but had no idea what to call your offerings, so for now I put Swede in Russia… Please advise.

    I believe I found you on Stumble Upon.

    All the best,

    Loquacious… RobbieMac0 (zero) on SU