Almost thirty years have passed since Belarus gained independence. Much has changed since then, but some things never get old even if we and you do.
The Village Belarus recalled six habits from the nineties that are still alive and breathing in an everyday life of Belarusians.
In the USSR, plastic bags were never garbage – they were a luxury from the West. Avoska, aka a perhaps-bag, this is what our parents and grandparents couldn’t imagine going to a shop without.
It was a major cultural phenomenon until at some point plastic bags, which had the same important trait of convenient foldability, appeared gradually sending avoskas into disuse.
Still, there are people who keep and reuse plastic bags. It’s become a tell-tale sign of someone who lived through the USSR, when plastic bags were scarce so they were washed and reused.
Nowadays, locals designers have brought the avoska back, turning it into a trendy accessory that one can find in fashion stores and save the planet from mountains of unrecyclable plastic bags.
Compulsory higher education
Another habit from the last century is a firm belief in higher education as a guarantee of a decent life.
While in Soviet times, the “all occupations are important and necessary” principle worked just fine, in the 90s Belarusians were convinced that one can’t succeed in life without a diploma.
So far, many employers require a higher education diploma for vacancies that obviously can do without it. As a result, there has been more than one wave of accountants, lawyers, “diplomats” and managers
Ironically, a qualified locksmith or a skilled construction worker in Belarus can make more than an average diploma holder who works as a seller in a neighborhood shop.
Broke but beautiful
Buying a brand new smartphone for a thousand dollars. Giving the last money for a flash car or a fashionable trip. Taking a loan to throw a massive wedding and repaying it with gifts from guests.
This has happened before, but in the 90s it has expanded on a scale never seen before and gradually evolved into what we have now. Luxury cars on the roads, young people with new iPhones and packed cafes, clubs and bars.
No wonder, foreigners keep wondering how poor Belarusians afford so many fancy things while statistics reports they struggle to make their ends meet.
Cult of cars
Since the Iron Curtain fell, used cars poured into the country. Having nothing but Lada and Volga cars, the Belarusians made a cult of foreign cars.
The car has become not only a means of transportation, but it also brought one status in society. It got to the point when buying a car was almost the responsibility of any established man.
And here we are now. Despite it is often more convenient to drive around the city by public transport, bike or taxi, there are thousands of cars everywhere and constant quarrels over parking spaces.
Belarusians are the world number ones in drinking alcohol. This is the only record our country holds on to on an ongoing basis, just occasionally letting other nations ahead.
The habit of heavy drinking is deeply rooted in the past, Belarusians, like other Slavic nations, liked to drink no matter the epoch. The crazy 90s turned on the tap with affordable and cheap alcohol.
It was the decade of moonshine, gin and cocktails, vodka, and signature beer and fruit and berry wines. Last year authorities tried to bring a dry law back but changed their mind really fast after the president said so.
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