Red is a prominent color in Russian culture and history. 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.
Red Square, or Krasnaya ploshad
, is one of the most famous examples of the red/beautiful dichotomy. Red Square, the most important square in Moscow, sits adjacent to the Kremlin
. Many people believe that Red Square is so named because Communism and Soviet Russia are associated with the color red. But Red Square's name, which may have originally come from the beauty of St. Basil's Cathedral
, was already in place before the Bolshevik Revolution.
CC BY carulmare
A red corner, krasni ugol, in Russian culture is the icon corner, which was present in every Orthodox household. This was where the family's icon and other religious accoutrements were kept. In English, the krasni ugol is translated either as “red corner” or “beautiful corner” depending upon the source.
Red as Symbol of Communism
CC BY-NC-SA philster02188
The Bolsheviks took the color red to symbolize the blood of the workers, and the red flag of the Soviet Union, with its gold-colored hammer and sickle is still recognized today. During the revolution, the Red Army (Bolshevik forces) fought the White Army (loyalists to the tsar); Communists or Soviets are called Reds in popular culture.
Red Easter Eggs
Red eggs, a Russian Easter tradition, symbolize Christ's resurrection, but red eggs were present even in pagan times. The only ingredient necessary for red Easter egg dye are onion skins. When boiled, they produce the red dye used to color eggs red.
Red in Russian Folk Costumes
CC by Maarten (Superchango)
Red, the color of blood and life, features prominently in Russian folk costumes.
Russian Place Names
Many place names in Russia contain the root word for “red” or “beautiful.” Krasnoyarsk (red slope) and Krasnodar (beautiful gift), and Krasnaya Polyana (red valley) are examples.