Photo @ Moscow by me
Article By Vladimir Kirillovich Zaradinsky and Sonya Anatolievna Mazenina
If anyone has stumbled across this in search of the traditional Zitravian costume with lovely red embroidered patterns or hand-painted matryoshka dolls, this is the correct dispatch but one might need to pass through this whole rambling first -- it is the 21st century! Forget all the cheesy folk songs for a moment and take in how we are actually living! After three world wars and several hundred years of being subjugated to the wills of stronger powers, we are free at last...
Unfortunately, we fought to be free in a nihilistic century, fast-paced yet empty. While no longer anguishing from war wounds and famine, we are shut in our rooms, dying spiritually as we struggle to maintain an ego. Zitravgradian culture has always been a strange, unorthodox cross between the past and the future, rather than staying in the ground of the present itself. It is in a sense pessimistic and melancholic, leading our people to find joys in trivial pursuit of meanings and expressions in which they believe, from life of homely simplicity to fast-paced life in quest of pleasure and destination to a lifelong journey of self-realization. While abiding by strict laws, Zitravgradians are known to live life to that limit drawn by legal boundaries: "If the speed limit is 120 kmph, I might as well drive at 119 kmph to spite the camera." From time to time, it ought to be admitted that we derive joy from threatening to break rules and finding loopholes. In the eyes of poor outsiders, we Zitravgradians ever so often become preys of misunderstanding. We are either slighted for being different or pitied for our past -- neither of them is a healthy attitude. Zitravgradian society is a paradox, thriving in qualities that seem to be on different sides of the spectrum. Behind the cold facade of stoicism and cynicism, we are warm and homely to those for whom we care and love. We can be as passionate and energetic as we are aloof and unfeeling, everything depends on situations, like a mathematical equation. And yes... Zitravgrad is renowned for mathematicians -- it is the branch of formal science that needs less money than most.
Being exposed to the world, we are willing to respect identities -- age, gender, race and so on, albeit in our hearts, there will always be opinions. Biased, prejudiced, self-righteous? Likely! We are only humans... and humans are only as good as they make themselves to be. Oh, we Zitravgradians are always conflicted between the collective structure and the individual desire. Hence, our hearts ought to be woven together by a sense of collective identity that individuals may relate themselves too -- the feeling of a tightly-knitted population in a strong and proud nation shall pave the path of our future, as long as it manages to last. Nationalism is a neutral energy that can be manipulated for both good and bad, after all.
No longer tied by fear of God and Nature, we are becoming enlightened believers of Man itself. Everything that has happened in the history of humanity, whether it was a golden age or a reign of terror, has always been the works of humanity itself. True, nature sometimes has a hand in the forms of seasons, weather and disasters, but it is its own mechanism and can be explained without resorting to the "divine intervention". Nonetheless, we are still left to ponder why we are still here at all; hence, we have not completely abandoned religions. It is a "to each, his own" affair. Either way, we can now understand our place in this Universe . But what else do we gain by believing in Gods and Natural Law at all - apart from temporary comfort of the mind? Our place is within ourselves, at the point where we truly experience time. We are not observers of Natural Law, but of ourselves, the existing self that perceives itself, the person - our actual self - that seeks its perception through the entities of nature, from which we take our sense of self and existence. At the very nature of time, when we experience it as the period of moments that exist within this particular moment, we enter into an authentic mental state of enjoyment and relaxation, and in this mode of mental awareness, truth becomes accessible.
The sheer sorry state of our souls will be enlightened by our own self-realization, as the state works only to provide the map rather than to point us where to go. No matter how many regulations, rules and laws have been drafted and applied, we Zitravgradians would rather feel it as gently as possible. Our spirit can only be alive that way. It is something that a state must recognize... and ours has done so, somewhat. In this day and age, it is regrettably more and more difficult to take politics from life and life from politics as people are made aware of how each government decision affects their lives. In a post-revolution state, the spirit to protect one's ideals should be alive, if not stronger than at any point of history, as to prevent the return to the darkened days we escaped from.
From this stage, I will relay to you the brief history of how our culture formed through out the last quarter of the twentieth century and the new century, as well as the information that you are waiting for. Please bare with me -- this has been a dialectic discussion.
We thought the world was going to the right place, but the photos from that time were bleak if you look into them.
Engineerism is a school of thought that stems from technocracy in Gaia since around 1960s, back when people were enjoying peace and prosperity in every aspect of life and tried to forget the terror lasting nearly three decades before their time. Empires and their intelligentsia were ambitious and had wild imagination that they could plan the future of humanity. It is a cross between Philosopher King and Democratic Peace Theory and its main belief is that world peace can be created if future leaders are raised and educated specifically for the purpose of becoming world leaders since birth and together in the same institutes. It goes in line with the League of Nations' original purpose as League of the Empires, in which the seven most powerful empires on earth established that the world could achieve peace if everything was under their control -- a world of seven leaders would be easier to deal with a world of a hundred leaders. That was what they believed and the empires were more than prepared to share the world among themselves like cutting a cake.
Moreover, Engineerism becomes a peculiar cross between the "old" thoughts like monarchism, imperialism and dynastic marriage, and the "new" like automation, genetic engineering and world government. In 1960s, the League of Nations seemed like it was on the top of the world, all powerful and had the power to dictate actions of great powers as long as the votes formed a strong majority. The world's prospect for the future was all the best and futurism was in full swing.
Everything died down in late 1970s and early 1980s. Economic recession hit the Auropian major powers and caused their colonies to suffer alongside. Dynastic ties carefully crafted since the end of the Second War were drifting apart due to personal and political differences. Reintroduction of humanoid artificial intelligence also caused a minor uproar. But most importantly, the great powers were now at one another's throats and the League of Nations could not do anything -- its fragile smokescreen was dispersing as its power turned out to be nothing more than "majority votes" of the great powers. Engineerism took as much blame for the political crisis that began to brew in 1980s as communism took the blame of starvation of poverty in real life. It was accused to be "unrealistic plan that serves Auropian imperialism", even if there were two Oriental empires in the plan. Today, Engineerism becomes an ideology loathed by majority, but revered by minority who calls it "misused and misunderstood". It did not even try to clash with the New Age "love and peace" ideology followed by the rebellious hippie youth of its era. But in its core, it was a sugarcoated global imperialism.
"Utopia is nigh!", they used to sing this propaganda back before the war. Screw you, boomers. If the world was so close to peace, then why did the Third Global War happen? Today, my friends, is the day of the New World -- the world in which we stare deep the truth shaped by millenniums of human history in its void-like eyes with thousands teeth waiting to devour us like some eldritch horror and say, "It be like that sometimes."
A normal color photo of a soldier and a decolorized photo of a church being blown up, bothtaken in 1995
The darkest time began. In 1995, there was little to no semblance of order, but we were not talking about chaos or full-swing anarchy with daily pillaging and razing like in the films -- although it would be subjectively more fun if it was an anarchy. Order is a human concept, and it is only as good as humans can be. It took only mere seconds for nuclear warheads to kill the lives and souls of millions upon millions of people in Gaia. But it was such a time in history in which we should pity the living more. However, we are talking about culture here. While I should allow myself to give my readers context, I should not be giving a lecture on history. One thing, or even one of the first things, that followed the nuclear war was the most unexpected thing: decolorized photography.
It was not certain where and how this trend started at all, but it soon became a sub-culture in which a normal photo might be shown next to its decolorized copies. That alone kickstarted the pseudo-vintage art and dug up the long deceased 1930s and 1950s from the graves, both ironically (or perhaps unironically?) also post-war eras. It was a statement that 1990s would also become the decade of coping as with the other two times in mention. No more ogling at frivolity of the upper-class, no more morality police -- but it was far from full-swing chaos. Indeed, criminality went up as certain people chose to steal to live, and some other chose to take the law into their hands, but it was barely enough to define the regime. Every man, woman and child was too distraught to care who did anything in a world that had collapsed around them. That was a surprising way that personal freedom was growing in Zitravia: the government run by mere humans was too tired to give a darn. That was when other """"religions""" started to spring out of nowhere, to promise something that the Eastern Orthodox Church couldn't and wouldn't -- the salvation not from Christ but from something that seemed closer and satisfied the wild imaginations of the population disillusioned with the world they used to know. On the other hand, televangelists who "reinterpreted" the words of God had also taken the spotlight. Nonetheless, the legalization of recreational drugs came along as the most surprising policy that the Imperial Zitravia could let happen. Many young people (including the generation in which I belong) turned to hedonism. Drug, alcohol and sexual gratification marked the said generation. Same-sex marriage, polyamorous relationships, high-risk pilgrimages into the nuclear wastelands, automobiles, modern arts, electronic music and sharp suits from great-grandparents' times were increasingly popular as the older generations could only shake their heads but could not practically stop us.
Providenska in 1997, decolorized because a e s t h e t i c s
But this dark age brought upon Zitravia another level of revival. We thought we lived in 1930s? No, the aristocracy now lived in 1870s -- inter-familial marriages, dresses longer than any woman's legs, sword on a gentleman's waist and a return to conservative and religious attitude as they sheltered themselves from the shattered world and us dirty commoners, thugs, mafia and modernity. This, however, was not strange, since it was a practice still done in the Imperial Court. It just got leaked back into the lower-rank noble houses whose children would eventually live their lives utterly torn between their reality and the common people's reality. Usually, it was seen as an opposing movement against the progressive but hedonistic movement that arrived at around the same time, but its origin was barely as important as its role to return order to Imperial Zitravia on the behalf of the Kozavian Empire. Powerful aristocratic connection equaled stronger local administration -- so while personal freedom seemed to surge, political freedom went from low to non-existent. The nobility became legally privileged again as they were once again granted the administration powers they lost as Zitravia modernized. The officers of "mayors" were dissolved as "barons", "counts", "dukes" and "princes" reclaimed their prestige. Even in Providenska, the new mayors were handpicked from prominent Providenskan nobility.
Yes, there are still people dressed like this. Shown in normal color photos so you believe me.
Torn between these weird bunches were the middle-class who were in fact the true pillar of Zitravia whether the top and the bottom of society liked it or not -- money-making, business-running, army-serving and office-working. The social class dynamic had been violently shifted several times since the automation took over the world and the war ravaged much of the population of the world. Since unskilled labor became less and less necessary, the lower classes could only move up or die. Thus, the middle-class became significantly bloated since 1970s onward but the gap between the richest and the poorest was getting ridiculous. Why is this fact important? Because any culture that the middle-class abode by would be considered the "stereotypical" culture of Zitravia. During this time, it appeared that the middle-class decided to take the best of both worlds and became a class filled with hypocrites -- the same people who worked for and cried "Long Live the Tsar" were likely the same people who would join the revolution when there was one. But that was what made the middle-class stronger than the rest: they had no such thing as naivety and blind loyalty since they held their own survival first and idealism later, yet they were a class that already lived in comfort and could afford time and energy for ideological discussion. And that was the trunk of the tree that would become Zitravian culture, a cycle of indulgence followed by regrets again and again, living life safe but with memories to look back upon and believing in "when young, liberalism; when old, conservatism". The revolution of social democrats led by the Workers' Party was inevitably a middle-class revolution.
Inevitably, Zitravian revolution belonged to the middle-class. Inevitably, what is good for one might not be good for the other. Inevitably, the Workers' Party's ideals are more or less revised... and become the defining traits for the new nation. Still unstable, Zitravgradian state in its infancy could not sort its priority well enough. Instead of realizing the ideals we drafted in our hard times, we were pulling ourselves back into the cycle of silencing dissidents, whom we once were. Irony and hypocrisy were our first face. (I'm allowed to say this, I'm in the Workers' Party.) For a moment, we forgot true Zitravian values, or remembered that they were not real from the start and had always been only what we imitated from the Kozavian Empire, our culturally more vibrant counterpart whose rule had defined us. We had no sense of self, no uniqueness. And what painful revelation that was!
So we forged "true Zitravian ideals" from almost nothing -- our existing lifestyle as the base and the rest will be figured out later as life should go. Aboard the Ship of Post-Modernity, Zitravia threw away everything her former "husband" had given her as she forgot their divorce in a blink of an eye. Their children, the other states beneath Kozavian rules, soon scattered into their own home. "The most dramatic divorce of the century", we named it. It was with this symbolism that the new culture was forged -- artificial in a sense, based on post-modernity and filled with potentials for development.
The New Age has not just arrived. It has already been around but we resisted it!
While treasuring the past and the tradition, the Zitravgradian culture also embraces the present and the future tight, preferring not to split between their roots and their current selves. However, the open nature of the Zitravgradian politics also obliges the people to adapt to the changing world and the overwhelming influence from abroad. Our short-term goal is to find ourselves...
So what is a "trans-postmodern society"? Define "postmodern" and define "society", so we may find out what arrives after the "transition" from the postmodern. Let us waste our time on definitions as much as we like, for that, my friends, is the basis of postmodernity is to redefine realities, and we must surpass that by excepting that while reality is not solid, we will make our own bubble and live in it. The state may be capable of drawing certain lines for our lives but it cannot hold us from thought itself -- any government in the world that does restrict thoughts is soon to decline in this day and age, even if it prides itself on its "stable" strengths of economy, law and military. (Ah, now! Define "stable"!) Zitravgradian society has shifted from the pretentious moralism onto rational self-control, from acting as though as we follow God's words onto highlighting only the words we prefer. Notwithstanding of expression in Zitravgrad has been a hot debate since its Day of Independence. What could we speak? What could we not speak? What will harm the collective and what will not? Is it good to state any opinion you have in your mind even if it might not be based on truth and reason?
With five of our senses (please do not bull---- me with your sixth), we are able to feel the tip of our cultural iceberg. Every culture must have a language we can hear, an image we can see, a bite we can taste, a scent we can smell and a touch we can feel -- whatever those are, you decide. In Zitravgrad, those sounds might be our beautiful languages, our instruments or even the unique sound that our church bells. Those sights might be the splashes of colors on the canvases of great artists or the majestic architecture. Those tastes... our cuisine, the taste of our home. And perhaps if you come closer, you will smell the gentle light blue roses, wheat fields and taiga forest and even touch the petals of that flower sprinkled on the traditionally woven fabrics -- is this not what makes a culture, or what makes it so important? It is a part of our lives and identities.
National Symbols: (Back to content) Why and how do some flora and fauna especially speak to a level that we take them as the representatives of our spirit? Perhaps they remind us of home, of nostalgia or of our personalities? Whatever the reason... let us analyze our symbols. Blue sky... ice blue sky was woven into our flag. Our national animal is the Aurosian wolf, frolicking in our lush forests, sometimes alone, sometimes in pack, like a Zitravgradian at different stage of his or her life. And lastly, our national flower -- Princess Zinaida's Rose -- is in fact a GMO variant of Rosa × damascena, itself already a hybrid rose. This flower perhaps speaks to our souls, evolving and changing into something new and hopefully better, and all-in-all unique to ourselves. Sometimes fake, sometimes flawed, but always beautiful.
Princess Zinaida's Rose is a rather new invention, having been created in 1980s by Zitravian scientist Ivan Kafarov, and named after Princess Zinaida of Zitravia, a historical figure of 15th century. This might hark back the memories of our true royalty, the Yaroslav dynasty. However, the wolf has been highly revered in Zitravian culture since the days of paganism. Sure, people are scared of large dogs that eat cattle. But they are beautiful in a way.
The national symbols -- the visible ones.
Cuisine: (Back to content) Food is undoubtedly an important part of any culture. As human civilization progresses, humans have learned not only to eat to satisfy their need for nutrients but also taste and emotions. Zitravgradian cuisine, or even Eastern Slavic cuisine in general, is not a fast cuisine. It is homely and comforting, adapting whatever ingredients one can get their hand on in the cold taiga and tundra lands and the frozen seas. Inevitably, we and the Kozavian Empire share plenty of dishes. (But borsch is ours!) Please hold your seat. This will be massive. (OOC: With due respect to Wikipedia)
Its foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, pork, poultry, caviar, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley and millet provided the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, pies, cereals, beer and vodka. Soups and stews are centered on seasonal or storable produce, fish and meats. Such food remained the staple for the vast majority of Zitravgradians well into the 20th century. While international fast food chains, cafe, restaurants and whatnot operate their businesses well and good in Zitravgrad, Zitravgradian cuisine, as mentioned, is not very well-suited for fast food. Many of Zitravgradian restaurant chains operate in cafeteria style, as take-home and delivery are not very popular. Most people prefer to eat at home, for both economic reason and family. Nonetheless, cuisines from abroad also have some influences in our country. From time to time, we cook pasta at home or take our friends out to sushi bar, whichever suits our taste.
While not exactly "unique" to us, Zitravgradians are also avid consumers of tea and coffee, with various ways to spice up our daily doses of caffeine. Nonetheless, the most popular variants being coffee with milk and sugar, and tea with sugar and lemon. Afternoon tea might not be an ingrained part of our culture (although much associated with the old aristocracy and the upper-class), but it is known for us to take a moment from work to make tea or coffee, perhaps it a biscuit or two.
This list absolutely does not cover everything, but rather the dishes that we are certain to be ours.
a vegetable soup made out of beets, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, dill. There are about 30 varieties of borscht. It may include meat or fish.
soup made with pork, salo, cabbage, and served with smetana (sour cream).
soup with pickled cucumbers.
thick, spicy and sour soup made with meat, fish or mushrooms and various vegetables and pickles.
clear soup, made from various types of fish such as carp, bream, wels catfish, or even ruffe.
Zelenyj borshch (green borscht) / shchavlevyj borshch (sorrel soup)
water or broth based soup with sorrel and various vegetables, served with chopped hard-boiled egg and sour cream
various kinds of smoked or boiled pork, beef or chicken sausage.
aspic (Studenetz or richcake) made with meat or fish (zalyvna ryba).
salad made out of cooked and chopped potatoes, dill pickles, boiled chopped eggs, cooked and chopped chicken or ham, chopped onions, canned peas, mixed with mayonnaise.
salad with cooked and shredded beets, sauerkraut, cooked and chopped potatoes, onions, and carrots, sometimes pickles mixed with some sunflower oil and salt.
Sel'edka pod shuboy (or Shuba)
also known as "dressed herring", is chopped salted herring under a "coat" of shredded cooked beet, sometimes with a layer of egg or other vegetables
Easter bread, usually a sweet dough with raisins and other dried fruit. It is usually baked in a tall, cylindrical form.
ring-shaped bread roll made from dough that has been boiled before baking. It is similar to bagel, but usually somewhat bigger and with a wider hole.
ring-shaped bread typically served at Christmas and funerals. The dough is braided, often with three strands representing the Holy Trinity. The braid is then shaped into a circle (circle = kolo in Ukrainian) representing the circle of life and family.
a round, braided bread, similar to the kalach. It is most often baked for weddings and its top decorated with birds and periwinkle.
soft, fluffy bread portions topped with garlic butter.
traditional rich pastry.
Varenyky (also called pyrohy)
dumplings made with fillings such as mashed potatoes and fried onions, boiled ground meat and fried onions, liver and fried onions, fried cabbage with fried onions, quark, cherries, and strawberries. Served with sour cream and butter or sugar, when filled with fruits.
baked buns stuffed with different fillings, such as ground meat, liver, eggs, rice, onions, fried cabbage or sauerkraut, quark, cherries etc.
a big pie with various fillings.
cabbage or vine leaves (fresh or sour) rolled with rice filling and may contain meat (minced beef or bacon), baked in oil and caramelized onions and may contain as a baking sauce tomato soup, cream or sour cream, bacon drippings or roasted with bacon strips on top.
Mlyntsi or nalisnyky
thin pancakes usually filled with quark, meat, cabbage, fruits, served with sour cream.
Roast meat (pechenya)
pork, veal, beef or lamb roast.
fried in egg and flour; cooked in oven with mushrooms, cheese, and lemon; marinaded, dried or smoked variety.
refers to stew in general, or specifically Hungarian goulash.
Kotlety/Sichenyky (cutlets, meatballs)
minced meat or fish mixed with eggs, onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, and milk, fried in oil and sometimes rolled in breadcrumbs.
Kruchenyky or Zavyvantsi
pork or beef rolls with various stuffing: mushrooms, onions, eggs, cheese, sauerkraut, carrots, etc.
Potato (kartoplia, also barabolia or bulba)
young or peeled, served with butter, sour cream, dill; a more exclusive variety includes raw egg.
potato pancakes, usually served with rich servings of sour cream.
Kissel or kisel
a viscous fruit dish, popular as a dessert and as a drink. It consists of the sweetened juice of berries, like mors, but it is thickened with cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot; sometimes red wine or fresh or dried fruits are added
fried quark fritters, sometimes with raisins, served with sour cream, jam (varennya), honey or apple sauce.
many varieties of cakes, from moist to puffy, most typical ones being Kyjivskyj, Prazhskyj, and Trufelnyj. They are frequently made without flour, instead using ground walnuts or almonds.
a whole fruit preserve made by cooking berries and other fruits in sugar syrup.
(plural and singular) jellied fruits, like cherries, pears, etc. or Ptashyne moloko (literally ‘birds' milk’)—milk/chocolate jelly.
thin griddle cakes similar to crepes traditionally made with buckwheat flour and yeasted batter, although non-yeasted batter has become widespread in recent times. They may be topped or filled with butter, smetana (sour cream), fruit preserves or caviar.
a kind of Easter bread that is traditional in the Orthodox Christian faith
a fruit confectionery (pâte de fruits). It has been described as "small squares of pressed fruit paste" and "light, airy puffs with a delicate apple flavor". In the Kozavian Empire, the "small jellied sweetmeats" were served for tea "with a white foamy top, a bit like marshmallow, but tasting of pure fruit".
a type of soft confectionery made by whipping fruit and berry purée (mostly apple puree) with sugar and egg whites with subsequent addition of a gelling agent like pectin, carrageenan, agar, or gelatine. It is commonly produced and sold in the countries formerly in the Kozavian Empire. The name given after the Greek god of the light west wind Zephyr symbolizes its delicate airy consistency. They are sometimes coated in chocolate.
strong spirit of industrial production or its home-made equivalent – samohon ("самогон" or moonshine) is also popular, including with infusions of fruit, spices, herbs or hot peppers. One of the most exotic is flavoured with honey and red pepper.
Beer (пиво, pyvo)
the largest producers of beer are largely in the southeastern region, some products are exported.
Wine (вино, vyno)
Zitravian wines are mostly produced in the southern regions, usually sweet.
Mead (мед, med, or медовуха, medovukha)
a fermented alcoholic beverage made from honey, water, and yeast. Its flavour depends on the plants frequented by the honeybees, the length of time and method of aging, and the specific strain of yeast used. Its alcohol content will vary from maker to maker depending on the method of production.
a homemade wine made from cherries, raspberries, gooseberries, bilberries, blackberries, plums, blackthorns and other berries. Berries were put into a sulija (a big glass bottle), some sugar was added. After the berries fermented, the liquid was separated from the berries, and put into corked bottles. The berries were used to make pyrozhky (baked or fried pastry). The wine has about 15% of alcohol.
a sweet beverage made of dried or fresh fruits or berries boiled in water.
a specific type of kompot made of dried fruit, mainly apples, pears, and prunes.
a sweet-and-sour sparkling beverage brewed from yeast, sugar, and dried rye bread.
milk fermented by both yeast and lactobacillus bacteria, and having a similar taste to yogurt. Homemade kefir may contain a slight amount of alcohol.
Pryazhene moloko (пряжене молоко)
baked milk, a milk product having a creamy colour and a light caramel flavour. It is made by simmering milk on low heat for at least eight hours.
fermented baked milk.
Music: (Back to content) I need not say more. Just blast your ears with these. As one might expect, we all are fans of military marches, army choirs and whatever the state thinks sounds marvellous when the armed forces march in front of the Kremlin. But that is barely the entirety of the public taste. Like every country, we have various tastes catering to various age groups and sub-culture. But who is who in the music industry now? I don't know, check that playlist out.
As usual, we are the less sophisticated in comparison to the Kozavian Empire, as our musicians and composers had been copying homework from theirs for the past few centuries since the era of classical music, opera and ballet. Then, we became fairly unique when "pop" became a thing. The Kozavian Empire itself was a late starter in developing a native tradition of classical music due to the proscription by the Orthodox Church against secular music -- not starting well until the 18th century. It took even more time for Zitravia to catch up. Before then, folk music was the norm. In comparison, the Zitravians were the ones that preferred experimenting while the Kozavians were the more classical and rigid ones. This resulted in the trend of music being somewhat different, with the Kozavian being seen as more sophisticated throughout the times and the Zitravian being "whatever". We value this freedom of expression as our modern music becomes more avant-garde and this "whatever" appeals to the rest of the world more than Kozavian obstination to keep it "classic".
1) Papers, Please: Theme Song
The moment when you realize... it's not a good idea to travel to random post-apocalypse Eastern Bloc country.
2) Баллада о солдате (Ballad of a Soldier) - Red Army Choir (2010)
I am not crying, you are crying.
4) Joseph Kobzon - Mgnovenia (Moments)
A song from the TV series "Seventeen Moments of Spring" and now it is my life's theme song.
5) "Song of the Volga Boatmen" - Leonid Kharitonov & Russian Red Army Choir
Leonid Kharitonov best singer. Alexandrov Ensemble Best. Soviet music also best.
6) Смуглянка (Smuglianka) - Alexandrov Red Army Choir (2016)
You try your luck with Zitravgradian women, they are beautiful, but every of them seems to have been some sort of partisan.
7) Вечерний звон (Evening Bells) - Alexandrov Red Army Choir (2006)
Near the Kremlin, the government thinks it is their duty to tell you it's already the evening.
8) Alexander Rybak - Kupalinka
Totally a children's song. (It's in Belarusian, but still.)
9) "Soldier's dance" - The Alexandrov Ensemble (1965)
Their Army defies gravity even better than their Space Force.
10) Священная война (The Sacred War) - Alexandrov Ensemble (2018)
Waging holy wars and things against... no one. Just vibing, really.
11) Сергей Лазарев " В САМОЕ СЕРДЦЕ"
But so you think, you want modern pop music, too.
12) Сергей Лазарев - Сдавайся
More because you can.
13) Muslim Magomaev. Песня о далёкой Родине
Another song from Seventeen Moments of Spring. Also, Magomayev is another amazing singer I dearly recommend.
14) Red Alert 3: Soviet March
Pretty much the Revolutionary's March. Picture it. Thousand soldiers march at the Kremlin Square while the top of the Party watch from the tower. It doesn't get more Eastern Slavic oligarchy time Zitravgradian than this.
15) Анна Герман - Надежда
"Hope, my earthly compass. Luck, a medal of bravery."
16) ВАРВАРА - ЛЕТАЛА, ДА ПЕЛА
An ethnic pop sings, about how summer passes by.
17) Dmitrij Koldun - Dai Mne Silu
This song is from 2000s so... the aesthetics back then might be weird now.
18) Vladimir Trochin - Moscow nights (1956)
If this song plays, you know the evening has fallen upon the capital.
20) Eduard khil - Зима (Winter)
Eduard Khil is yet another good singer... and winter really is the theme of my nation.
21) Марш Нової Армії
Get into Ukrainian nationalist vibe?
22) Eduard Khil - Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой.
And that is the list -- for now!
Visual Arts: (Back to content) Now this depends on what you want to see or hear -- some traditional patterns, classical paintings or downright "how does this sell for 16 million hryvnia?" art. We will try to collect everything in a bit of space and time and your attention span. I don't think half of the original readers will still remain here. Alright, the topic is visual arts, so let us not speak too much. Use your eyes and take in the visuals without reading the plaques like in the gallery.
Pysanka (Painted Easter eggs), Petrykivka painting, Illuminated manuscript and Zitravian embroidery
Lacquer art, jewelry, icon art and porcelainware (Kozavian-styled)
19th century art, you might recognize them
Socialist realism of Providensan Communes vs Yaroslavgorod Art Deco, result still not determined
Examples of contemporary art
Performing Arts: (Back to content) With increasing needs for distraction, the entertainment industry is growing and Providenska is the city for that. Being the less stiff and "moralistic" than most capitals in Eastern Auropia, Providenska has its decadent side apparent alongside its sophistication and simplicity. Stage plays of both classical and modern description, live music or show in jazz bars, ballet, and opera sprawl all over the capital as art has become more accessible to the common people. But the tip for identifying Zitravian performing arts is that the more modern it is, the more unique it is to Zitravgrad's independent culture. Romanticists and classicists of the old tend to conform to Kozavian opulent but conservative taste, especially ballet troupes which were more often than not under Imperial sponsorship.
Jazz club, ballet, stage play and opera respectively
Literature: (Back to content) Zitravgradian are pessimistic, with a cold, black sense of humor. Citizens read books involving death and tragedy with unmoving faces. The most popular novel is "Within Range of War ground". (Imagine modern-day War and Peace, with not much peace, just war.) "Reading makes a man", this phrase belongs to every culture that adores progress, civilization and enlightenment. While it is not useful to list to you names of all the classic writers and their works. It is noteworthy that Zitravian literary movements always arrive in two rivaling school -- the realist and the romanticist of 19th century, the avant-garde and the classicist of the 20th century, and the trans-postmodernist and the neo-romanticist of th 21st century. Always engaging in a fight between status quo and change, between war and peace, between ideals and reality, and so on, and so on.
Just so we cover the basis of modern Zitravgradian minds, here are schools of thought and their ideas. Please keep in mind these authors associate themselves voluntarily to their schools of thought. This, for one, is a remarkable change in the literary world -- modern prominent thinkers sort themselves out into categories before they pass away, rather than the other way around.
Trans-postmodernism - A spiritual successor of postmodern, rejects reality as a whole but values truth and logic. Usually uses straightforward metaphors that can be found in real life as well as genuine emotions, avoids unnatural exaggeration. Some authors of this school are offshoots of futurism, placing high value on modernity, nihilism and hedonism. Unpretentious, metropolitan, living life on the line -- these are their major themes.
Neo-romanticism - Almost the exact opposite of trans-postmodernism, praising tranquilty, nature and rural beauty, with occasional religious undertone and folk tale allegories. Despite this, they are notably nationalistic and do not use overly exotic words in most cases. The undertone of their school is often how simplicity can be a goal in itself and the freedom of spirit is the most important quality in a person.
Third-Wave Classicism - Usually mistaken and mixed up with neo-romanticism, third-wave classicism has a highly rigid form of writing, especially in poetry, limiting vocabulary and banning diminutive of words. Seeking revival of "sophistication". the classicists are usually (but not always) highly-educated or from the old aristocracy.
Sports: (Back to content) Zitravgrad's national sport is, rather disappointingly, association football. However, it has been increasingly common for people to go out and participate in the sports of their choosing. The most popular choices being something easily accessible like football, basketball, tennis, swimming and gymnastics, while winter sports also prove to be popular in Zitravgrad. Moreover, martial arts, such as boxing, fencing and archery, are making a notable comeback. Still, fencing is sometimes seen as the sport of the elite (even with dueling being illegal.)
A few examples of our sportsmen/women
Everyday Fashion: (Back to content) The hardest topic, and the last among "the visible culture". Clothes keep us warm and define our appearance. Again and again, fashion changes as people change their mind. But overall, we are approaching the pseudo-vintage era. The manner of dressing in this day and age has taken a random turn. True, the contemporary concepts of t-shirt and jeans with leather jacket exist. However, the majority of the middle-class who can define the trends have revived the grandfather's suits and their grandmother's flapper dresses, while the old aristocracy dress to reflect their ultraconservative nature. Moreover, this revival of formalwear did not merely arrive just because they collectively thought it would look good, but also the shift in economic class that had pushed a large number of people into office jobs or bureaucracy, prompting casual business attires to become more regular.
Hats, gloves and coats are also back in fashion thanks to the slightly more erratic weather. In fact, the more protection, the better. This, in turn, led people of both genders to an understanding that dressing up was not exclusive to the female -- the formerly rugged male Zitravgradians had taken it upon themselves to look at least a little cleaner, while some might have gone overboard to become dandies. In this day and age, it is the time of "whatever" that suits you. Fun fact: women in Zitravgrad are no stranger to bonnets and corsets and some men have adapted to using corsets to define their shape -- albeit men are not going to tell you if they actually do it.
Examples of contemporary fashion, but by no means as mainstream as expected
More casual male attires, could be either vintage or contemporary
Formal suits for men, from upper-class to office workers during weekdays
Edwardian dresses, stiff and unnegotiable, worn mostly by old aristocracy
Roaring Twenties flapper style, more carefree and libertine
The Author: Vladimir Kirillovich Zaradinsky (Back to content)
Occupation: Writer, "public relations" for the Workers' Party
Spouse: Sonya Anatolievna Mazenina (Profile TBA)
Spoken Languages: Russian, Georgian, English, French (intermediate)
Born in Providenska in 1976 to a middle-class family of Tbilosian ancestry (hence why he speaks Georgian as well), Zaradinsky is a trans-postmodernist by literary school and a radical left-winger by political alignment. Having lived his early life untouched by typical middle-class expectations, he went to the State University of Providenska where he graduated with Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts and Master's degree in Literature, then became a songwriter, a playwright, a poet and a stage actor -- but most importantly with the reputation of being a hooligan and a rioter. Being of free-thinking and radical character, he joined the Workers' Union since its infancy and was at odd with the pre-revolutionary regime and regularly joined or led protests and riots up until the Zitravian Revolution. For almost two years, he lived as a fugitive in an underground slum and later in the middle of nowhere that is the southeastern edge of the country (which is his wife's birth region). After the Revolution, he became one of the most prominent public relations figures of the Workers' Party, even though his anti-authoritarianism and "slight" socialistic leaning has put him at odd with the leading figures of the Party.
Zaradinsky is a true city man, living a fast, almost hedonistic life in the underground condominium in the heart of the city with his wife, a fellow writer Sonya Mazenina. His lifestyle is quite one of an artist, as he can be found drinking, smoking, writing or watching paint dry (although painting is more of a hobby for him). Deciding to live their lives fully, he and his wife decide to not have any children, and travel back and forth between the city and the countryside quite often. A tall man with raven black hair and strong build, he is easily spotted at any art galleries, public speeches and book fairs. Known as the Premier's co-author, he co-authors a majority of the Premier's speeches and other messages, as well as the Workers' Party's campaigning slogans. (Also, he wrote the Premier's wedding vows but they ended up not using it.) His recent works are largely in form of plays, poems and lyrics, as he has abandoned acting due to politics. Fashionable, pompous, dramatic with violent temper, but unpretentious -- he is among the most colorful characters in the Workers' Party, especially when he decides to just stand up and diss someone in poetry on the fly. It was hard to get him to write an article this technical, however.
Okay, so I just referred to myself in third person. Meta, much?
The Co-Author: Sonya Anatolievna Mazenina (Back to content)
Occupation: Writer, singer, Ministry of Culture's senior official
Spouse: Vladimir Kirillovich Zaradinsky
Spoken Languages: Russian, Ukrainian, North Circassian dialects
Born to a family of farmers in Kasgalamov in 1976, the Mazenin lived at the near edge of Zitravia in Ulyssnich Oblast, making Sonya Anatolievna somewhat close to the people in Adychei, as well as ingrained in rural traditions and arts. At the age of ten, she was spotted by the Zitravian Bureau of Culture and recruited into the Children's Choir, which was in turn a part of Imperial Army Choir. Her education since then was geared towards the arts, but with a patriotic undertone, as overseen by the Bureau. Entering the State University of Providenska shifted her worldviews and brought several questions to her supposed ideology, whether all she believed in were her own ideas or not. After graduation with a degree in literature, she was transferred into the Department of Propaganda, as she was considered "obsolete" and "out of trend". Working on censorship of fellow artists and writers, she decided that what she was doing was not right, but also was not her choice. After her resignation from the Bureau, she had to flee to home (alongside an old classmate Vladimir Zaradinsky) and put herself under the protection of the region's administrator, Knyaz Dmitri Potyomkin, who would also join the Zitravian Revolution in 2007.
After the Revolution, she would find herself again working in the more bureaucratic position in the Ministry of Culture, albeit with different intentions than before as she works constantly to promote not only the preservation of traditional cultures of Zitravia but also the freedom of speech for the aspiring artists, musicians and writers of the new age. Her personal life revolves around this work and her own works, as she and her husband switch occasionally between their Providenska condominium and the rural cottage in Ulyssnich. Appearance-wise, Sonya Anatolievna is a small, angsty but lovely woman with flowing golden hair and big blue eyes -- an ideal Zitravian beauty. Her poetry focuses on the beauty of countryside and nature, if not also occasional angst and confusion of a woman's feelings as she works through her depression and whatnot.