Street sketches

Moscow in Red

July 14, 2016

Summer time is always charming in Moscow. Walking on the Red Square you will feel the scent of flowers (Moscow holds the Flower Festival now),  passing by GUM you catch the aroma of just baked cakes.  And wherever you go, you will never escape from the curious tourists who are trying to learn the secrets of the Russian culture.

As you know, Russia has always been associated with bright colors. The brightest color in the Russian language, and the one that has most positive connotations, is the color red.

Inspired by the idea of the red color, I decided to go for a walk and offer you to join me. In the meantime, I will tell you a story about the red color as a symbol of Russia.

The Russian word for red, krasni, was, in the past, also used to describe something beautiful. Today, krasni is used to indicate something that is red in color, while krasivi is the modern Russian word for “beautiful”. However, many important sites and cultural artifacts still reflect the combined usage of the word, and a name that incorporates this root may still be considered something elevated in status. In fact, the Russian word for excellent – prekrasni – shares the root kras with these other words.

Moscow’s main square is called Red Square. Historically, it is believed the square was given that name not because of the presence of red buildings on it, but because it was considered to be beautiful. So it would have been more appropriately called not Krasnaya but Krasivaya square.

As a history tells us,  for a special event a guy in a Russian village used to put on a red shirt. Then he went for a walk with a beautiful girl, whom he told all sorts of stories. He would look up at the sky and saw the Red sun. He went to Moscow’s Red Square for gifts (it used to be a market square).

Russian icons in the house were hung in the “red” corner (honorary corner), a dear guest was seated in a “red” place (place of honor).

There were also negative meanings of the word. “Red” meant “dangerous”, “fiery.” “Let the red rooster out” is an expression meaning “set a fire to something.”

Red color also became a symbol of October Revolution of 1917 when the Bolsheviks came to power.

Today the attitude towards color red in Russia is the same as in the rest of the world. Red is considered an active and even aggressive color.

As for me, I consider red color as a one of the most important symbols of Russia. Do you agree? 🙂

Photos by Anastasia Nikitina