17 votes

What is the "unavoidably-raised ax of history over every person's head"?

It was a great principle of Marxism that they were the wave of the future and how History was going and their triumph was inevitable. Which meant that everyone in the Soviet Union had a duty to ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,055
15 votes

What is "Galacian tobacco" and what is its significance?

According to the original text in Ukrainian: it was clearly incoming smuggling; the author seems to deliberately use the older Roman name of Spanish Galicia — probably, to avoid the possible ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

What is "Galacian tobacco" and what is its significance?

Galician, not Galacian. During the 1970s and 1980s, Galician smuggling cartels specialised in cigarettes and tobacco. It was a big illegal industry in Iberia, and perhaps extending further afield in ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
14 votes
Accepted

What is the "unavoidably-raised ax of history over every person's head"?

Dangling axe, or dangling sword, is a maxim that refers to Damocles. It generally means something inevitable and/or looming. It was — and it is — widely popular in Ukrainian literature, politics, and ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

What does it mean to take iron to a transfer station?

Here's the same quote in Ukrainian (highlight mine): Діти несуть залізо, як на приймальний пункт, а Цвичок голосно розпоряджається: коротке залізо - під стіну, довгі труби - в хату, гайки-цвики - у ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
9 votes

What is "Galacian tobacco" and what is its significance?

I note there are two regions in Europe which are spelled "Galicia" in English. One is the northwest corner of Spain, the other a region in modern Poland and Ukraine. Rand al'Thor mentions ...
M. A. Golding's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Was "sweet" a common euphemism for "foolish"?

I waited for someone else to answer this question, but it seems that I have to. No, the meaning of "sweet" itself is pretty much similar to what is in English (sweetheart, darling, or simply ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Why did Maria tell her friends that a negative event was caused by the fact that she "didn't confess this year"?

It's impossible to answer definitively because the requirements of confession are dictated by local custom; but in both the Catholic and Orthodox tradition, communion should be taken once a year at ...
Konrad Schroder's user avatar
4 votes

Why was the doctor's "entire monthly pay" in his pocket?

I haven't read the book and don't know the exact context, but I'll risk to answer anyway from my experience. Doctors, like most workers, were usually paid twice a month (normally 40+60%), cash in hand....
Zeus's user avatar
  • 602
3 votes
Accepted

Why did the police officer complain about Ivan not having a passport?

The internal passport system was a vital tool for governing the population, because it identified the bearer and allowed him to be regulated. It was overtly stated that its purpose was the removal ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,055
3 votes
Accepted

Why did Maria rub badger fat on Darusya's head?

Badger fat is a common folk medicine in eastern Europe. It is typically used to treat cuts or burns, though a close friend from Voronezh reports having been given hot badger fat to drink to treat ...
Konrad Schroder's user avatar
2 votes

Why did Maria tell her friends that a negative event was caused by the fact that she "didn't confess this year"?

TL;DR: "you didn't confess" = "you are seeing ghosts because you haven't visited church". It is worth mentioning the nature of the "negative event". Varvara was walking ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar

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