Russian Language Blog

Do svidaniya, leto, do svidaniya! and Two Singers You Should Know About Posted by on Sep 24, 2021 in Idioms, Music, Soviet Union

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

In many parts of the world, we say до свида́нья to summer on September 22, the date of the осе́ннее равноде́нствие [autumn equinox – from the words ра́вный equal and де́нь day], but did you know that Russians actually have a calendar understanding of the seasons? What does that mean? В Росси́и после́дний день ле́та выпада́ет не на 21 (два́дцать пе́рвое) сентября́, а на 31 (три́дцать пе́рвое) а́вгуста1In Russia, the last day of summer falls not on September 21, but on August 31.. (To learn more about dates, please read this awesome and informative article Bota wrote earlier this week about how to say the date in Russian.) The seasons are broken down as such, and only as such:

Весна́2Springмарт, апре́ль, май.

Ле́то3Summerию́нь, ию́ль, а́вгуст.

О́сень4Winterсентя́брь, октя́брь, ноя́брь.

Зима́5Fall/autumnдека́брь, янва́рь, февра́ль.

В соцсетя́х6on social media on this day, almost everyone’s feed is littered with one of two very beautiful, but, at this point, quite cliched songs, performed by two very prominent Soviet-era singers:

Софи́я Рота́ру – «То́лько э́того ма́ло»7Sofia Rotaru – But That’s Not Enough

Софи́я Рота́ру (Sofia Rotaru) was born in the Ukrainian SSR to a Moldovan family. She has sung in many different languages, but her most popular hits are in Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldovan (Romanian) languages. She rose to prominence in the late sixties/early seventies. Now she is one of the richest celebrities in Ukraine.

The lyrics are taken directly from a poem written by Арсе́ний Алекса́ндрович Тарко́вский Arseny Aleksandrovich Tarkovsky, father of the famed Soviet filmmaker Андре́й Арсе́ньевич Тарко́вский Andrey Arsenievich Tarkovsky. Let’s take a look at just one verse (with a loose translation below each line):

Вот и ле́то прошло́,

Now summer has passed [прошло́пройти́ to pass]

сло́вно и не быва́ло.

as if [сло́вно as if] it hadn’t even happened.

На пригре́ве тепло́.

In the sun [пригре́вthe spots on the ground warmed by the sun] it’s warm.

То́лько э́того ма́ло!

But that’s not enough!

Всё, что сбы́ться могло́,

Everything that could have come true [сбыться to come trueмоя́ мечта́ сбыла́сь my dream came true]

мне, как лист пятипа́лый,

like a five-fingered leaf,

пря́мо в ру́ки легло́.

fell right into my hands.

То́лько э́того ма́ло!

But that’s not enough!

Perhaps less popular than Rotaru’s flashy 80s hit on social media on this day, but just as thematic, is a more graceful, breathy farewell to summer sung by the queen of Russian pop music:

А́лла Пугачёва – «До свида́нья, ле́то!»

Алла Пугачёва Alla Pugachyova hails from Moscow and reached prominence in the 1970s as the pre-eminent diva of Soviet эстра́да pop music. Her screen presence was widespread, and her popularity reaches to this day. Her family has also had their time in the limelight, including her daughter Кристи́на Орбака́йте Kristina Orbakaite, who was a child actress and is also a singer, and her current husband Макси́м Га́лкин Maksim Galkin, a very prominent TV personality in Russia.

We can look at the second verse:

За окно́м сентябрь

Out the window [за окно́м “behind” the window] September

провода́ кача́ет.

rocks the power lines.

За окно́м с утра́

Out the window all day [с утра́ “since the morning”]

cе́рый дождь стено́й.

it’s a wall of grey rain [стено́й as a wall – you can say Снег идёт стено́й Snow is falling heavily].

Э́тим ле́том я

This summer I

встре́тилась с печа́лью,

encountered sadness,

а любо́вь прошла́ стороно́й

and love passed.

What do you like about fall/autumn? How does this time of year make you feel? Is there a certain melancholy, as expressed in these songs? Or do you enjoy this season?

  • 1
    In Russia, the last day of summer falls not on September 21, but on August 31.
  • 2
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    on social media
  • 7
    Sofia Rotaru – But That’s Not Enough
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  1. Adelaide Dupont:


    I am enjoying a singer called Alyona at the moment who has covered nearly everything in rock and pop.

    Love the passing seasons and the words behind them.

    What I like about autumn – the weather is mostly gentle and the sunrises and sunsets change a lot.

    Yes, autumn can be melancholy especially as it passes into winter.

    Sofia is new to me.

    • ryan:

      @Adelaide Dupont Аделейд, спасибо за ваш комментарий! I wasn’t familiar with Alyona, but I just looked her up and she has a very impressive voice and range! Wow! I’m glad you’re already acquainted with Alla Borisovna’s music.