The History of the Russian Country home – Dacha (Дача)

Russian Country home

The History of the Russian Country home – Dacha (Дача)

The history of the Russian Country home – Dacha, is diverse.  The word “dacha” originated in the 17th century from the verbdavat’” (to give), in reference to plots of land distributed by the Tsar. At the beginning of the 18th century during the reign of Peter the Great dachas became popular as summer holiday retreats. The nobility used their dachas for social and cultural gatherings, including masquerade balls and fireworks displays.

By the end of the 19th century, a house in the country was one of the necessary possessions of the rich as well as the middle class. Russian poets and writers mentioned dachas in their works. Summer homes in beautifully adorned areas became a “place-to-be” for many Russian artists. Many types of goods were specially manufactured for dacha use – from lady’s accessories such as fans and hat to furniture items and even toilets.

At the beginning of the 20th century Maxim Gorky published a play entitled “Summerfolk” (in Russian – “Dachniki”) to show that these educated folk knew nothing about the needs and troubles of ordinary people. In 1917, during the Russian Revolution his work was published and deprived most owners of their dachas. some of which were turned into the “holiday homes” for workers.

Nowadays almost every Russian owns a dacha, from April to November they run out of the city to spend as much time as possible in their dacha. But not everything is a big break, being there demands too much work because is a rural location.

In the middle of the 1950s, a dacha with a small plot of land let people save their tiny incomes, planting their own vegetables. They stored potatoes in cellars, pickled cucumbers and made jams out of apples and pears in order to have some food reserves to last through the cold Russian winter.

Throughout Russian history, dachas were also “recognition” items, given as awards to prominent writers, poets, musicians, composers, scientists, top-ranking generals and the like. They symbolised the person’s high status. In most cases services and maintenance – sometimes even meals –were provided by the state. Granting dachas was also a good form of control. As soon as the person fell out of favour, his or her dacha was the first item to be taken away.

 

This blog was brought to you by Eliant, an intern and a student at Liden and Denz 

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