Monday, May 28, 2012


Y. Origami Box Ornaments by Samantha Miller

This awesome  project for D.I.Y. Origami Box Ornaments comes to us from Samantha Miller of Paper Red Shoes. I love the idea of hanging these for display (like she's done in the photo at the end of this post). Here are the directions and more from Samantha:
I have folded a few thousand of these boxes and have learned the following along the way: cut a good square, fold crisply, and practice before you use paper you really like!

Supplies needed:
  • Vintage or antique book
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Ruler
  • Ribbon
  • Fishing line.

Tip: Whatever is on the topside of the square (as circled) is what you will see on the finished box.

Step 1:
Choose a great book. One with plate illustrations is usually best like old dictionaries with pictures. This one is over 100 years old! I got it from Oxfam for £10.

Step 2:
Tear eight pages from the book. Cut four pages into a 5in square for the top and four pages into a 4¾in square for the bottom. Depending how big your book is, you can cut larger squares for larger ornaments.

Steps 3 & 4:
Fold one top sheet in half horizontally. Fold the top half in half.

Step 5:
Fold in half again. This time vertically.

Step 6:
 Take the bottom left corner and fold it at a 45° angle so that the corner is now in the middle.

Step 7:
Fold the bottom right quadrant at a 45° angle as shown above.

Step 8:
Fold the remaining 3 cut top squares as you did in steps 1-7. You should now have four folded pieces that looks like this.

Steps 9 & 10:
Slide one piece’s side under the fold of another. Make sure the first piece’s triangular “flap” is under the one you added.

Step 11:
Slide the third piece’s side into piece’s two fold. Make sure the second triangular “flap” is under the one you added.

Step 12:
Slide the fourth piece’s side into piece’s three fold. Make sure the third triangular “flap” is under the one you added.

Steps 13 & 14:
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky, but don’t despair. You can do it! Insert the first piece’s side into the fourth piece’s fold. Tuck the fourth triangular flap under the first.

Step 15:
Gently push the sides and corners together so that the pieces fit snuggly. Repeat steps 1-14 for the bottom of your box.

Step 16:
Now your box is done, tie some ribbon, yarn, jute, or whatever around it. Cut a piece of fishing line to make a loop. Thread the line under the ribbon and tie a secure knot.

Step 17:
Take the ends of the knot and poke them into the center of the box along with the knot. Straighten ribbon back into place.

Voilà!!   Now you have an originally beautiful ornament. Many happy folds!


    The year 2012,  is one of the rare years in which there are three Friday the 13ths – January, April, and July. That combination of a year where Friday the 13th happens three times in January, April, and July only happens on leap years. In January we celebrated this event with a list of ten lesser-known Friday the 13th events and here is another list in time for our second unlucky Friday of the year.

10. Black Sabbath Releases First Album/1970
Black%20Sabbath%20First 0

   On Friday February 13, 1970, Black Sabbath released their first album in the United Kingdom. Given only two days of studio time to record it, the band played all of the songs live, saving the second day to mix what they had recorded. The album “Black Sabbath” went on to reach #8 on the UK album charts and when released in the USA, it reached #23 on the Billboard charts. The album remained in the Billboard charts for over a year and was a commercial (though not a critical) success. The album went on to earn platinum selling status in both the US and the UK. The band wasted no time capitalizing on the success of their first album and were back in the studio in June 1970 to record their second album “Paranoid” which had the hit single of the same name.

9. Supreme Court Allows Schools to Censor/1988

   On Friday January 13, 1988, the US Supreme Court handed down a ruling in the case Hazelwood School District et al. v. Kuhlmeier et al. that gave public school administrations broad power to censor school newspapers. In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that student newspapers not established specifically for the purpose of providing students with a forum for free expression, are subject to lower levels of First Amendment protection. Thus the court allowed public schools to put restrictions on what could appear in school-sponsored student publications.
In the case in question, a public school in Missouri published a school paper (The Spectrum) that was fully paid for and supported by the school district. The issue had stories on teen pregnancy and divorce which the school principal felt needed to be removed. When these stories were removed, three of the students sued claiming the decision to remove the articles from the paper violated their First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court held that “the First Amendment protection for student expression described did not compel a public school to affirmatively sponsor speech that conflicts with its “legitimate pedagogical goals.” The school-financed newspaper at issue was also not considered to be a public forum under the totality of circumstances present in the case, and therefore, its editors were entitled to a lower level of First Amendment protection than is applicable to independent student newspapers or those newspapers that have, by policy and practice, opened their page to student opinion.” Source – Wikipedia.

8. Sewer Explosions Rock Louisville/1981

   On Friday February 13, 1981, in the city of Louisville Kentucky, it seemed like the city was under attack. A series of underground explosions in the city’s sewer system destroyed more than two miles of streets. Somehow, there were no fatalities but the damage was so extensive the National Guard was called in.
   It began around 5:15 a.m. on the morning of Friday the 13th when a spark from a car at the intersection of 12th and Hill streets ignited flammable vapors in the sewer system. Two women on their way to work at the local hospital were driving under the railroad overpass when the sparks from their car ignited the vapors. The force of the explosion hurled the car onto its side but neither occupant was killed. Overhead, a police helicopter happened to be traveling above the city. What they saw was incredible – a series of explosions like demolitions detonating up and down city streets, one after the other. The pilot described what they saw as looking like “a bombing run.” More than two miles of streets were left with craters where manhole covers for the sewer had once been. Many business and homes were damaged by the explosions.
   The source of the blast was traced back to hexane vapors, which had been illegally discharged by a Ralston-Purina soybean processing plant. The hexane (which is a solvent) was used in the processing of the soybeans and the plant had a system to recover and reuse the hexane. However, that night, the system was broken and hundreds if not thousands of gallons of the hexane went into the public sewer system. Inside the sewers, the vapors from the hexane accumulated and reached an explosive mixture with air. The flammable and explosive vapors came out of the manhole covers and all it needed was a spark to set it off. Ralston-Purina would later pay $18 million to the city and $9 million to the people of Louisville.

7. US Delta Program has a Bad Start/1960
Delta 500

   In 1960 the United States was rushing to catch up to the Russians in the space race. That year, the US introduced the Delta family of rockets meant to be the backbone of the US military, commercial, and space exploration business. The Delta rockets were designed to be versatile, expendable launch vehicles that could be used to launch different size and weight satellites and other hardware into different levels of orbit. The first launch of a Delta rocket was scheduled for Friday, May 13, 1960. Perhaps they should have waited until Saturday?
   That day, the Delta rocket was set to launch the first US experimental communications satellite called Echo. Echo was essentially a large metal-covered balloon that would circle the Earth and be able to bounce communication signals from one area to another.
   On May 13, 1960, at Cape Canaveral, the launch took place. The first stage of the multi-stage rocket worked fine and the vehicle rose off the launch pad. However, troubles developed with the second stage of the rocket and the Echo satellite never reached the intended orbit. Echo only orbited the Earth for a few months.
   In spite of the dubious beginning, the Delta rocket has proven to be remarkably successful. Over 300 Delta rockets have been launched since 1960 with a 95% success rate. The Delta II and Delta III launch systems are still in use today.

6. Hotel in Thailand Collapses/1993

   On Friday August 13, 1993, the Royal Plaza Hotel in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, collapsed killing 137 people and injuring 227.
   Thought to be the finest hotel in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, the Royal Hotel was hosting several large conferences for teachers and oil company workers that day. At around 10:10 a.m., the building suddenly and quickly collapsed. The entire collapse was estimated to have taken less than 10 seconds as all of the upper floors fell down onto the lower floors.
   In 1990, the then three-story building was renovated and three additional stories were added to the building. The three additional stories were added without permit and without strengthening the support structure of the building. Somehow, the building stayed vertical for three years. Eventually, the lower ground floor support structure weakened beyond the point it could hold the force of the five stories above it. This led to an almost completely vertical collapse of the building.
   The engineer who designed the additional floors was arrested and jailed. Safety inspectors had taken bribes to allow the construction to take place. Remarking on the lack of safety and regulations, corruption, bribery and building construction in Thailand, the Prime Minister, Chuan Likphai noted, “It seems we Thais do not respect regulations and this has resulted in frequent problems.”

5. Uphaar Cinema Fire/1997


   A terrible tragedy occurred in Delhi, India on Friday June 13, 1997, when the Uphaar Cinema building caught fire. The resulting fire and stampede killed 59 people and injured another 103.
   The multi-floor theater was packed with a crowd to see the Hindi movie “Border” when the fire stared at around 5:00 p.m. Below the theater was a parking garage and though it was capable of handling 18 cars, 36 cars were crammed into the space. Also in the basement-parking garage was a 1000 kVA electrical transformer. Earlier that day, the transformer had caught fire but the fire was put out and repairs made. At around 5:00 p.m. however, the transformer began to leak oil and this ignited. Quickly the cars in the garage also caught fire. The fire then spread to the rest of the five-story structure, which housed the cinema and offices. Most of the victims were trapped on the balcony, unable to reach dimly marked exits, and crushed by the stampede of people who found some of the exits were locked. Due to a similar transformer fire incident 14 years earlier, the licenses for 12 cinemas, including the Uphaar, had been canceled due to multiple serious safety violations. However in those 14 years between the citation and the deadly fire, none of the safety violations had been corrected.

4. Jim “Catfish” Hunter Wins Free Agency/1974
J Catfish

   It was Curt Flood who in 1970 first challenged baseball’s reserve clause, the contract provision that kept players indentured to a single team. Flood lost both a Supreme Court case and his career. But his sacrifice allowed Jim “Catfish” Hunter to rack up a win. On Friday December 13, 1974, just months after Hunter’s Oakland A’s had won the World Series, an arbitrator ruled that by breaching part of Hunter’s contract, A’s owner Charles O. Finley had invalidated the entire contract, including the reserve clause.
Hunter had a contract with the Athletics that stipulated the team make a payment into an insurance fund. A’s owner Charles Finley refused to pay the money. Hunter challenged this and the arbitrator decided in his favor. By ruling that the contract and the reserve clause in the contract were void, as a result of Finley refusing to pay the insurance cost, the arbitrator set Hunter free of the Athletics, making him the first free agent in baseball history. Hunter would go on to sign a $3.75 million contract with the New York Yankees which at the time ranked as the largest in baseball’s history.

3. Fatima Apparition/1917

   On Friday May 13, 1917 the first apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in the village of Fatima Portugal. The three children were Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. While tending sheep in the fields outside the village the children reported seeing a woman dressed in white and “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.” The woman asked the children to return to the spot at the same time every 13th of the month for the next six months. As this was the time of the horrors of World War One, she then added, “Recite the rosary every day to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war.”
   In total there were six apparitions of the Virgin Mary from May 13 to October 13, 1917. After the first apparition, the children returned on June 13th, this time with hundreds of believers. After the people prayed, the Virgin Mary reappeared before Lucy and announced to Lucy: “I will soon take Francisco and Jacinta to heaven, but you will remain here for some time. Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved.” Both Francisco and Jacinta would be dead within three years time. Both children died during the 1918-1920 pandemic flu outbreak.
   During the July 13th apparition, the Virgin Mary reveled herself to and spoke to Lucy once again (the crowd of people, estimated to be 4,000 or more, could not see or hear her, only Lucy). She told Lucy: “I want you to continue to say your rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain the end of the war and peace in the world”. She also told Lucy three prophecies that Lucy was to keep secret for some time. Two of these secrets were disclosed in 1942, the third in 2000. These secrets became known as the Three Secrets of Fátima.
   On October 13, 1917, during the final visitation, there occurred “The Miracle of the Sun.” This was the miracle the Virgin Mary had predicted she would unfold to cause unbelievers to believe. A crowd estimated to be 30,000 strong was at the site of the previous apparitions when many witnesses saw unusual affects on and of the sun. There was a brief period of rain, then the clouds broke, and when the sun reappeared it was seen as an opaque, spinning disc giving off many colors on the ground, the people, and the clouds. Many thought it was a sign of the end of the world, others reported the sun zigzagged through the sky. Still others claimed their clothing, which had become wet from the rain, instantly dried and the mud at their feet baked dry.

2. Alfred Packer Convicted of Cannibalism/1883
Alferd Packer

   On Friday April 13, 1883, Alfred Packer was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for allegedly killing and eating five people. He was one of only two Americans ever convicted of the crime of cannibalism. Later his crime was lowered to manslaughter and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
   In late November 1873, Packer and five other men, Shannon Wilson Bell, James Humphrey, Frank Miller, George Noon and Israel Swan, broke off from a larger party of prospectors heading into the mountains of Colorado near Breckinridge to prospect for gold. In January 1874 the men consulted with a well-known Indian familiar with their destination who advised the men to wait until spring before setting off to avoid the deadly winter months. They ignored his advice and set off into the mountains headed for Gunnison Colorado on February 9th, 1874. Quickly the men became lost and ran out of provisions. Packer later claimed that he went off scouting for food and when he returned to camp he found Bell roasting human meat over the fire. Packer claimed Bell rushed him with a hatchet in hand. Packer shot him dead. He then ate the other men and in mid April finally wandered into Gunnison. There he was arrested and tried for the murder of the five men, and eating them for food. Though he claimed he did not kill the men, he did admit to eating them, and eventually signed a confession.
   Packer would escape prison, be recaptured, and then paroled by the Governor in 1901. He died in 1907. His legend lived on though. He was once quoted as having said, in jest, “the breasts of man… are the sweetest meat I ever tasted.”

1. Earth’s Gravity Decides our Fate/2029

   The asteroid Apiophis is named after a mythological Egyptian god of evil who was determined to cast the world into darkness. It appears the asteroid was appropriately named. On Friday April 13, 2029, Apiophis (which is the size of The Rose Bowl, about 1,100 feet across) will come closer to the Earth than the orbit of satellites (at a distance of only 18,000 miles from Earth). Though it will be closer to Earth than many satellites, fortunately, it will come in towards the Earth at an angle that keeps it out of the densely populated Earth satellite region and collisions with satellites should not occur. The asteroid will be close enough to Earth that, even in daylight, observers will see a bright object move across the sky. If the asteroid enters a specific trajectory known as “they keyhole” then the influence of Earth’s gravity will ensure that the asteroid heads off towards the Sun on a trajectory that will guarantee it will strike the Earth the next time it comes around the Sun and approaches our planet. Seven years after that close Earth approach, should the asteroid go through “the keyhole,” Apiophis will hit the Earth in the year 2036. Should it miss the keyhole, the asteroid will not hit the Earth in 2036.
However, should Apiophis collide with the Earth, it will cause major damage. The impact would be the equivalent of 100,000 nuclear bombs and would destroy thousands of square miles. Should it land in the ocean, the resulting tsunami would devastate coastal areas. Let us hope Friday the 13th of April 2029 is a lucky, and not an unlucky Friday the 13th.


    The oldest mention of the present procession is to be found in a charter of the Unloaders'Guild (1291). From it we learn that the guilds of Bruges were obliged to participate in the procession. Probably the Holy Blood was exhibited in the chapel on the Burg before 1291. And it is presumably from this custom that the procession originated.
    From 1303 onwards one hears of a Holy Blood procession going round the city walls. Because the relic was town-property the procession was, of course, a civil and an official occasion in which horsemen, guildsmen and artisans, marksmen, city councillors and, naturally, the clergy, in all their splendour march with the relic.

    In 1310, Bruges' city council decided to combine the festivities around the Holy Blood, its procession (May 3rd) and the two-week ceremonies, with the annual fair (April 23rd until May 22nd). As a result the numbers of those assisting at the procession and the devotion around the Holy Blood grew.
    In the 15th and 16th centuries, profane scenes with giants, the Ros Bayard with the four sons of Aymon, as also the chambers of rhetoric of the city, were added to the biblical scenes (mystery plays). Due to the religious disturbances in 1578 it was considered safer to cease carrying the relic around outside the city gates. So, for the first time, the procession took place in the city centre and followed the course which, today, it still follows
    Between 1578 and 1584, Bruges had a Calvinist regime. The procession was banned and the relic was taken to a place of safety. At the time of the Counter-revolution (17th century), and also in the 18th century the procession regained its religious character.

    Floats with all kinds of symbols and representations gave it a triumphal aspect. During the French rule, the procession was again abolished (1798-1819), and the relic placed again in safety. In the 19th century the procession was composed of the seven parishes of the city with their numerous brotherhoods, congregations and schools. During the 20th century a variety of changes in the themes and the presentation were made.
    The procession is conceived in a style dating back to Bruges' golden age (15th century), when Bruges was one of the most important harbours north of the Alps, and also a bustling commercial market and residence of the Burgundian dukes. During that period remarkable works of art were produced by the Flemish Primitives
The procession of the Holy Blood tries to answer the questions every man has on the meaning of his own life and on the existence of the world. Everyone wishes to be deeply happy.
    That happiness has different names, according to the cultural background, called by some "Nirvana", by others "Heaven", or, in the biblical tradition :"'The Kingdom of God", "Sion" or "the new Jerusalem".

The procession is divided into four parts :

The Old Testament

The old myths tell of existential matters concerning the life of man.

The paradise, the banishment of Adam and Eve, the fratricide :

    The creation was entrusted to man by God. By serving the Creator he preserves and protects creation. He gives names to all creatures and, in doing so, he becomes fellow-creator with God. But man is at the same time good and bad. The greatest sin is the pride from which envy and quarrelling originate. Because evil is rooted in man, he passes his life seeking for happiness, peace and the meaning of his existence. He is looking for lost paradise …

Erring man :

    Invited by God, Abraham departed from his country for a strange, but better land to begin his life anew. Abraham let himself be led by God, in whom he trusted : it's the Covenant of God with his people.

The outcast man becomes the savior:

    Joseph, his father Jacobs' favorite son, was sold by his brothers : since humanity exists, people leave their "brother" behind. Some do not even shrink from killing their kinsmen. Joseph, promoted Pharaoh's adviser, became his brothers' savior when they were driven to Egypt by hunger. In this way, Joseph is the prefiguration of Jesus Christ, who, as outcast, brings new life to humanity.

    Throughout the history prophets appear who bring to our memory Gods' mission and the most fundamental rules of our life, respect of life, justice, love for and trust in God.

The New Testament

    Christ was born in a carpenter's family, in an insignificant spot and it was the simple ones, the shepherds, who first received the joyous message. It means for the searcher after truth that he has to make a complete change in his ideas if he wishes to discover the deepest meaning of life.
    The three kings, three wise men, come to Jesus from different parts of the earth, bringing with them the wisdom of Western, Eastern and African culture in order to attest that Christ is the answer to the question of life's meaning. Later on, the Child Jesus is talking to the teachers with depth and wisdom and He blesses the children because they are holy and receptive for God.
    Jesus Christ gives the answer to the meaning of life

    The same Jesus who is now with jubilation welcomed in Jerusalem will , a few days later be put to death. This shows that man is two-faced. Before his death, during the last meal with his disciples, Jesus delivered them his message of love which in turn they should deliver to the world. Jesus, however, will be betrayed and brought before Pilate.  He is sentenced to death in order to appease the anger of the people.
    After being scourged and crowned with thorns, Jesus climbs up the Golgotha carrying his cross.
    He is the symbol of suffering and at the same time of the everlasting life and of trust in love. The resurrection of Jesus, the central point of the Christian faith, means He is close to all who come to Him and, in doing so, live in joy and in peace.

The relic of the precious blodd and the chapel where it's kept


    Preceded by heralds, flags and a band, Count Derrick and his followers came to Bruges in order to hand over the relic as a sign of the new Jerusalem.
They were acclaimed by the people of Bruges, even by the wealthy.

The Veneration of The Holy- Blood

    Ever since the 12th century, the numerous brotherhoods and associations of the city of Bruges venerate and pay homage to the Holy-Blood.
    Still today bishops and prelates, the clergy and the civil authorities in name of the people pay tribute to the relic.

The Noble Brotherhood of The Holy-Blood

    The Noble Brotherhood of the Holy Blood was founded shortly after 1400. Its purpose is to safeguard the relic and to further its veneration. Its 31 members must be resident in Bruges and, as an old document puts it, be "honorable people".
    The Provost can be recognized by his rich neckchain. On ceremonial occasions the Brothers wear a black silken tabard on which the pelican with her young is embroidered.

The Relic of The Precious Blood

    For about 750 years the population of Bruges and its neighbourhood faithfully and intensively venerates the relic of the Holy Blood.
    The Noble Brotherhood of the Holy Blood, being aware of the importance attached by the inhabitants of Bruges to their relic, made in the course of centuries every effort to keep up the tradition.

    The relic of the Holy Blood is displayed each Friday, before and after the mass, to be venerated by the faithful.
    This age-old practice reaches a peak on Ascension Day : Bishops and prelates carry the shrine in the streets of the city on occasion of a solemn and colourful procession of more than 1800 actors.
    Each year 50.000 pilgrims are present at this original event.


The Top Ten Best Phobias to Have:
10. Aichmophobia: The Fear of Pointed Objects
9. Anglophobia: The Fear of England and its Culture
8. Bogyphobia: The Fear of the Boogeyman
7. Electrogeniphobia: The Fear of urinating during an electrical storm.
6. Soceraphobia: The Fear of Parents-in-Law
5. Arachibutyrophobia: The Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth
4. Francophobia: The Fear of the French
3. Rhabdophobia: The Fear of being Beaten with a Stick
2. Politicophobia: The Fear or abnormal dislike of politicians
1. Coulrophobia: The Fear of Clowns

...And now, the top ten WORST phobias to have:
10. Papaphobia: The Fear of the Pope
9. Xylophobia: The Fear of Wooden Objects
8. Hellenologophobia: The Fear of Complex Scientific Terms and Greek Terminology
7. Porphyrophobia: The Fear of the color Purple
6. Gymnophobia: The Fear of Nudity
5. Ostraconophobia: The Fear of Shellfish
4. Stasiphobia: The Fear of Walking
3. Pantiphobia: The Fear of Everything
2. Venustraphobia: The Fear of Beautiful Women
1. Eurotophobia: The Fear of Female Genitalia


   Sometimes, knowing what NOT to do is even more important if you want to fit in or at least produce a good impression. Read on to find out about ten Russian social taboos.

Don't Come To Visit Empty-Handed

   If you're invited over for dinner, or just for a visit, don't come to a Russian house with nothing. What you bring doesn't really matter — a box of chocolates, flowers, or a small toy for a child. Russian hosts prepare for company by cooking their best dishes and buying delicacies that they normally wouldn't for themselves. If, after all this effort, a guest shows up without even a flower, Russians believe he doesn't care.

Don't Leave Your Shoes On In Someone's Home

   Russian apartments are covered in rugs. Often, they're expensive Persian rugs with intricate designs, which aren't cleaned as easily as traditional American carpeting. Besides, Russians walk a lot through dusty streets, instead of just stepping from the car directly into the home. For these reasons, and also because this tradition has gone on for centuries, Russians take off their street shoes when they enter private residencies. The host usually offers a pair of tapochki (tah-puhch-kee; slippers); if you go to a party, women usually bring a pair of nice shoes to wear inside. And again, if you fail to take your shoes off, nobody will say anything. But sneak a peek: Are you the only person wearing your snow-covered boots at the dinner table?

Don't Joke About The Parents

   Russians aren't politically correct. Go ahead and tell an anyekdot (uh-neek-doht; joke) based on ethnicity, appearance, or gender stereotypes; just steer clear of jokes about somebody's mother or father. You won't be understood.

Don't Toast With "Na Zdorov'ye!"

   People who don't speak Russian usually think that they know one Russian phrase: a toast, Na Zdorov'ye! Little do they know that Na Zdorov'ye! (nuh zdah-rohv'-ee; for health) is what Russians say when somebody thanks them for a meal. In Polish, indeed, Na Zdorov'ye! or something close to it, is a traditional toast. Russians, on the other hand, like to make up something long and complex, such as, Za druzhbu myezhdu narodami! (zah droozh-boo myezh-doo nuh-roh-duh-mee; To friendship between nations!) If you want a more generic Russian toast, go with Za Vas! (zuh vahs; To you!)

Don't Take The Last Shirt

   A Russian saying, otdat' poslyednyuyu rubashku (aht-daht' pahs-lyed-nyu-yu roo-bahsh-koo; to give away one's last shirt), makes the point that you have to be giving, no matter what the expense for yourself. In Russia, offering guests whatever they want is considered polite. Those wants don't just include food or accommodations; old-school Russians offer you whatever possessions you comment on, like a picture on the wall, a vase, or a sweater.
   Now, being offered something doesn't necessarily mean you should take it. Russians aren't offering something because they want to get rid of it; they're offering because they want to do something nice for you. So, unless you feel that plundering their home is a good idea, don't just take things offered to you and leave. Refuse first, and do so a couple of times, because your hosts will insist. And only accept the gift if you really want this special something, but then return the favor and give your hosts something nice, as well.

Don't Underdress

   Russians dress up on more occasions than Americans do. Even to go for a casual walk, a Russian woman may wear high heels and a nice dress. A hardcore feminist may say women do this because they're victimized and oppressed. But Russian women themselves explain it this way, "We only live once; I want to look and feel my best."
On some occasions, all foreigners, regardless of gender, run the risk of being the most underdressed person in the room. These occasions include dinner parties and trips to the theater. Going to a restaurant is also considered a festive occasion, and you don't want to show up in your jeans and T-shirt, no matter how informal you think the restaurant may be. In any case, checking on the dress code before going out somewhere is a good idea.

Don't Go Dutch

   Here's where Russians differ strikingly from Western Europeans. They don't go Dutch. So, if you ask a lady out, don't expect her to pay for herself, not at a restaurant or anywhere else. You can, of course, suggest that she pay, but that usually rules out the possibility of seeing her again. She may not even have money on her. Unless they expect to run into a maniac and have to escape through the back exit, Russian women wouldn't think of bringing money when going out with a man.

Don't Let A Woman Carry Something Heavy

   This rule may make politically correct people cringe, but Russians believe that a man is physically stronger than a woman. Therefore, they believe a man who watches a woman carry something heavy without helping her is impolite.

Don't Overlook The Elderly On Public Transportation

   When Russians come to America and ride public transportation, they're very confused to see young people sitting when an elderly person is standing nearby. They don't understand that in America, an elderly person may be offended when offered a seat. In Russia, if you don't offer the elderly and pregnant women a seat on a bus, the entire bus looks at you as if you're a criminal. Women, even (or especially) young ones, are also offered seats on public transportation. But that's optional. Getting up and offering a seat to an elderly person, on the other hand, is a must.

Don't Burp In Public

   Bodily functions are considered extremely impolite in public, even if the sound is especially long and expressive, and the author is proud of it.
   Moreover, if the incident happens (we're all human), don't apologize. By apologizing, you acknowledge your authorship, and attract more attention to the fact. Meanwhile, Russians, terrified by what just happened, pretend they didn't notice, or silently blame it on the dog. Obviously, these people are in denial. But if you don't want to be remembered predominantly for this incident, steer clear of natural bodily functions in public.