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12 December

On December 12, 1876, Russian engineer Pavel Yablochkov invented a new type of an arc light. The so-called “electric candle” was put to wide practical use and greatly accelerated the development of electric lighting. …

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Peter Carl Faberge

Peter Carl Faberge was a world famous master jeweler and head of the ‘House of Faberge’ in Imperial Russia in the waning days of the Russian Empire.

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Of Russian origin: Pechka

Photo from http://arttower.ru Photo from http://arttower.ru

The heart of the traditional rural Russian home used to be a large, brick stove that took up about nearly one-quarter of the living space of a peasant home. The immense structures weighed between one and two tons and served multiple purposes. 

First, they were used for various cooking. Secondly, because the ovens were made of materials such as brick, stone, and clay which absorb heat and cool slowly, they were also used to heat homes. Expansive in size but efficient when it comes to energy, the ovens only needed to be lit twice a day to keep dwellers warm. Third, the flat top of the stove served as a warm place for those most susceptible to the effects of the cold, such as the elderly, to sleep.

Wood chips served as fuel. Once the fire was lit and burnt out, the ash was either removed or swept aside before cooking began. Some homes had chimneys for the acrid smoke to escape. They were called white huts. Those without were called black huts. During the reign of Peter the Great, black huts were outlawed but continued being built into the 1900’s.

The ovens have made their way into Russian folklore in the form of fairytales. Often the oven is personified. In “The Magic Swan Geese” a young girl meets a Russian oven and asks it for directions. It assists the girl by giving her directions, food, and protection from the swan geese.

Written by Staci Bivens for RT