Most Russians believe that “colds come from cold”, not from infection. Here are some of the most common advice that you will hear in Russia about avoiding colds and flu.
Dress well and dress your children extra well. Children have to wear hats and mittens and scarfs from the beginning of Fall to the end of Spring. Moms usually especially control wearing hats! Young kids comply to that, but older kids and teens do not consider wearing hats cool. If a kid decides to trick mom, agreeing on wearing a hat and takes it off while taking the elevator down, that is what she will hear from the window: “Tanya, put the hat back on!!!”. Smart kids learn fast to take the hat off only after they are out of mom’s sight.
Adults should dress well too. Warm coat, hat, gloves and scarf, plus – most women wear tights under jeans or pants! That is very uncomfortable, but a lot of women believe that it is essential in a cold weather. And in former times women used to wear wool tights, called reituzy, on top of regular tights (those were to be taken off indoors).
Girl dressed for winter, beginning of the 60s
Swimming in ice-cold water
There is an opposite school of thought though – cold water treatment to train your body to cold. This involves cold showers, but on practice not many people do that. But a lot of adults do swim in ice-cold water in winter. How does that fit with the previous concept? Easily. People swim in ice-cold water on a certain church holiday, when cold cannot do any harm.
For all other times – opening windows and even sitting near a closed window is believed to be harmful practice, leading to catching cold. Turning the AC on is believed to be even more harmful!
But nothing is worse, than sitting on the cold stone (even in Summer)! Any Russian will tell you to never do that!
And if you start to feel under the weather – you better not eat or drink anything cold. Even though eating ice-cream at the street in Winter is a standard practice – when you catch cold – your parents will allow you to eat only melted ice-cream!
Other than that – Russian people do not differ from Western people in how to prevent cold. We also take vitamins and know that sport makes you more healthy. And from time to time you start seeing people, wearing masks in the subway, but that is still very rare! And people have very controversial views on flu vaccinations and on vaccinations in general!