It might be the weather or our Nordic temper, but Belarusians have long established a reputation as people who smile on rare occasions.
However, don’t be fooled by this poker face: we can chuckle or get a rolling laugh, you just have to know what strings to pull.
Choose any of the following.
1. Smile disarmingly
This is the first step to have a good laugh with a Belarusian.
Yes, we may look like beetle-browed naggers at first and second sights, but nothing crushes defenses of an unsmiling person faster than an ingenuous smile – in the street, on the metro, at a shop. The most beautiful thing is that you don’t have to wait long for the effect to come.
A greeting grin pierces through Belarusian closed nature in seconds, revealing friendly and welcoming people to crack a joke with.
2. Show self-irony
The Poles joke about the Germans, the Germans poke fun at the Russians, the Brits can cut a gazillion japes about the Irish.
But no one can laugh at themselves like Belarusians do. This has always been in our blood, and now we’re practicing self-mockery in millennial style – with potato memes and catchphrases:
‘Three stages of poverty in Belarus: there is no money, there is absolutely no money, and it is time to exchange dollars to rubles.’
Read also: Strange laws in Belarus
Demonstrate this skill of healthy self-irony. Belarusian will recognize a kindred spirit laugh with you.
3. Tell a party story
One can win over almost any Belarusian reveler with a couple of killing party stories.
So if you have such a memory to share, go ahead. It is an excellent way to start a new adventure together to laugh over in the morning, even with a hangover.
4. Watch local news
American people watch stand-ups, Belarusians watch news reports instead.
Ask your Belarusian friend to comment on a news feed just after the latest one. It won’t be long before you hear giggling.
It will be even more fun if you ask to explain some news memes to you, like razdevatsya i rabotat which literally means undress and work (we won’t spoiler this one to you).
However, be careful with economic news, for you can get crying instead of laughing.
5. Ask a Belarusian to teach you to say Odzirydzidzina
Here’s the thing. Our language is lovely and melodic, but some words can be draconian tongue-twisters for foreigners, like the one above.
Any Belarusian would laugh an ass off your first ten or fifty attempts to utter these mazes of consonant sounds.
Don’t get angry with this friendly banter. Better use it to practice the tip No2.
6. Praise Belarusian weather
This one is relatively easy, just use this phrase ‘What a wonderful climate you have here!’
In the worst scenario, you will hear puzzled giggling, but a Vitebsk or Mogilev resident will probably get a fit.
Why? The gif below shows, in a bit exaggerated manner, what summer looks like in the north-eastern part of Belarus:
7. Treat a Belarusian to a shot of Zubrovka
Have you ever tried it? Zubrovka is also called the Belarusian absinthe, and it’s a magical liquor when taken responsibly. A combination of herbs and spices turns this liquid into a soothing balm for your nerves and an ordeal for your taste buds.
Just take a shot or two in the company of a Belarusian comrade, and do not hold back your facial expression. Tons of fun!
Text by Anton Ananich. Featured image by Vitaly Zelkovsky.