Some Russian riddles to celebrate spring Posted by ryan on Apr 15, 2022 in Grammar, Idioms, Vocabulary
Spring is finally here. After a long and snowy winter, seeing some цветы́ is a great relief, even if it is still a bit too cold and wet to actually enjoy being outside for a long period of time. However, the sad, gray landscape during this time starts to be dotted by tiny hints of brilliant color.
Why? Of course, because during this time, plants begin to цвести́ to flower. Before we dive into the actual names of the flowers, let’s explore this interesting verb and its prefixes:
Цвести follows this conjugation pattern: Я цвету́, ты цветёшь, он цветёт (obviously this verb is mostly used in the third person). The past tense (attention!) is цвёл, цвела́, цвело́, цвели́. With the prefix за– we get зацвета́ть/зацвести́ to bloom with the prefix за– suggesting the beginning of and a certain intensity of an action. With раз-, the great intensity of an action, we get расцвета́ть/расцвести́ which means to blossom, be in full bloom. This verb, along with the noun расцвет, suggests flourishing or prospering. But beauty is a short-lived tyranny, and flowers eventually die. In this case, we get отцвета́ть/отцвести́. Сире́нь уже́ давно́ отцвела́. The lilacs already lost their flowers a while ago.
To make it a bit more fun, I am going to tell you the names of some spring flowers in the form of зага́дки riddles. Russians love their riddles, and so do I. They consist of a fun rhyme, usually two to four lines long. A book of riddles can be fun entertainment for many people, from a way to entertain children to a way to entertain guests at a party. By the way, I consulted this website and this one as sources for the загадки, so if you’re interested in trying some yourself, please do! Without further ado, riddle 1:
Появи́лся и́з-под сне́га,
Увида́л кусо́чек не́ба.
Са́мый пе́рвый, са́мый не́жный,
Чи́стый, ма́ленький …1It appeared from under the snow/ it saw a piece of sky./ The very first, the most gentle, the clean, the small…
Well, of course the only flower to fit the rhyme would be this one2подсне́жник snowdrop! They appear very first out of all the other flowers, hence the line in the riddle “самый первый,” and the name itself под– under and снежник (from the word снег snow). Next:
Их в Голла́ндии найдёте,
там везде́ они́ в почёте.
Сло́вно я́ркие стака́ны,
в скве́рах там цвету́т…3You can find them in Holland,/ there they’re most revered./ Like bright-colored cups, in the squares grow…
(Загадка by Савельева Екатерина Андреевна)
What else could it be but another favorite April flower4тюльпаны tulips.
Есть у весе́ннего цветка́
Приме́ты, чтоб не ошиби́ться:
Ли́стик — как у чеснока́,
А коро́на — как у при́нца!5A spring flower/ has features so as not to be mistaken:/ a leaf like garlic,/ and a crown like a prince!
The answer, of course, is this vain flower6нарци́сс daffodil.
And our last one:
На листо́чках там и тут
Это в тёплый ма́йский день
Распуска́ется…7On the leaves here and there/ a purple display of fireworks./ On a warm day in may/ blossoms….
Of course, what would the month of May be without this May flower8сире́нь lilac!
I wish you all a peaceful and beautiful spring. Нет войне́!
- 1It appeared from under the snow/ it saw a piece of sky./ The very first, the most gentle, the clean, the small…
- 2подсне́жник snowdrop
- 3You can find them in Holland,/ there they’re most revered./ Like bright-colored cups, in the squares grow…
- 4тюльпаны tulips
- 5A spring flower/ has features so as not to be mistaken:/ a leaf like garlic,/ and a crown like a prince!
- 6нарци́сс daffodil
- 7On the leaves here and there/ a purple display of fireworks./ On a warm day in may/ blossoms….
- 8сире́нь lilac
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