January 01, 2020

Ringing in the Plump New Year

Ringing in the Plump New Year

It’s that time of year: Americans are busy making — and breaking — their New Year’s resolutions.

Russians are too smart to put themselves through this torture. In fact, it’s even hard to describe what resolutions are in Russian. The closest translations are обещания, сделанные самому себе (promises made to oneself) or цели на новый год (goals for the new year), neither of which quite capture that fist-pounding, chest-thumping resolute assertion that “this year I’m going lose weight!”

Russians are too smart for that, too. Although the country is filled with millions of slender people, and some young women — and young men — who spend millions of rubles to stay that way at spa holidays, Russians are not obsessed with weight loss. In fact, the language still carries echoes of the past, when being fat meant being rich and healthy, and being thin meant being sick and poor. To this day, most of the standard words for losing weight have connotations of starving or wasting away.

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