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National Pastimes

    In Summer Russians enjoy swimming, countryside rambles and fishing.

    In summer it is customary for city people to stay at a dacha, or country retreat. Children swim and play at the dacha, while adults fish, swim, tend the garden, walk in the woods, and enjoy a life in complete contrast to the bustle of the busy city.

    In winter activities include skating, cross-country skiing and fishing through ice holes.

    In winter ice slides can be made quickly on any slope, gentle or steep. Water poured down the slopes freezes quickly. Children all over Russia love such slides; some use sledges but many just slither down in their thickly padded clothes. Elaborate wooden slides were built in places with few hills, such as St. Petersburg.

    Outdoor ice-skating has long been a national pastime in Russia for people of all ages. In winter, frozen ponds or flooded artificial rinks attract crowds of skaters, who glide gracefully to piped music. The ice regularly swept free of snow, and heated cabins allow skaters to put on their skates in comfort.

    In autumn people of all ages love to go mushroom picking in the woods.

    In autumn thick clusters of mushrooms spring up in the woods and fields. Armed with baskets and buckets, people scour the countryside, and even city parks, for the many varieties of edible mushrooms. They take their trophies home to eat straight away, or to dry for future use.

    Popular sports include soccer, ice hockey, and tennis. As well as gymnastics and other Olympic sports. Favorite games include chess and dominoes; older people can often be seen playing these in city parks. Even though most people have modern bathrooms, the weekly steam bath is still a regular event in both the city and the countryside.

    Russians are very fond of drinking weak black tea at any time of the day. To have the tea readily available, they use a samovar which is a self-boiling urn. The water in this traditional samovar is heated by a central tube that is filled with pine cones and kindled by charcoal. The tea in the pot on top of the samovar can then be continually refreshed with the boiling water. Now the samovars are run by electricity.

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