Winter in Russia, owing to its geographical position, is usually cold, long – it can snow from early November up to late March – with long dark nights and short days. Most of the population traditionally was involved in agriculture, so in winter the majority of the people usually had more free time. That is why a number of winter activities emerged and were popular both with nobility and ordinary people. Here are the most famous winter sports and games!
Seizure of a snow fortress is an ancient Russian winter game. It required a big number of participants. The players divided into two teams, one was trying to conquer the fortress, and the other was the defenders. Before the revolution on 1917 the rules were rather cruel. People used horses to attack; the defenders could protect the fortress with the help of shovels and brooms. The goal of the game was to destroy the fortress, which was made of snow, and its walls were covered with ice. Sometimes it resulted in injuries on both sides. Nowadays they still play this game, but the procedure is less dangerous.
Another famous winter sport is ice skating. Almost everybody these days in Russia at least once in his life has tried skating, and some people in winter go skating quite often. No wonder that the Russians are always doing so well in this kind of sport in different competitions. Before the times of Peter the Great not so many people went skating, because the blades were made of bones of animals, most people were too heavy for them. Skating was more for the children. Peter the Great improved the construction, for the first time in the history firmly attaching metal blades to the boot with the help of nails. Now in every city of Russia there are a number of skating rinks.
One more popular sport is tobogganing. People belonging to all different parts of the society have always enjoyed it! Catherine the Great loved it so much, that in Oranienbaum, the residence which belonged to her and her husband Peter (future Peter III) a special pavilion was constructed. From the second floor of the pavilion here was a long slope from which people in sledges rushed downward! The pavilion still exists in Lomonosov (not so far from St Petersburg) and it’s possible to see it. In the Peter and Paul’s fortress in the center of St Petersburg right now they installed a special public slide. Anyone can come and enjoy this winter activity free of charge!