You can take the Russian Peasant out of the wilderness, but you can’t take the wilderness out of the Peasant. The rush to turn a nation of rural farmers into a nation of urban peasants had been successful. More Russians than ever before lived in urban apartments provided by the government, closer to their factory jobs. But as life and the soviet economy normalized after the war and Stalin’s passing, what many wanted most was a taste of country life again. Enter the Dacha.
A row of Dachas in rural Russia.
As much as a summer home was a sign of prestige in the west, a Dacha was the sign of a favored member of the Soviet Union. Often nothing more than a simple one story cottage with a loft, the Dacha represented freedom from the city life many Russians endured in the USSR. While not every Russian owned a Dacha, the Kruschev government provided plots of land in the country for citizens to build their own Dachas, where an individual’s hard work could immediately be seen. Many Dachas had garden plots for fresh grown produce, and bathhouses, called “Banya”, perfect for steaming in before a dip in a cold lake.
Banya is best experienced in the cold months
The freedom to build a home, and see the effects of hard work firsthand were valuable to many Russians that felt like cogs in a machine while in the city. On the weekends, tram lines to the country worked overtime to shuttle workers to their Dachas on Friday, and back to work on Monday. While it may not seem like much, a breath of fresh air, and a weekend out among nature was a critical part of early Soviet culture, and has persisted to this day. The author can attest to the relaxation a Dacha can provide, and anyone who has spent a weekend at a beach house eating barbecue can attest that sometimes the little things make life all the easier.