St. Petersburg: Souvenirs and their stories

April 29th, 2020

Thanks to Disney’s Anastasia I’ve always been drawn to St. Petersburg and I recently had the opportunity to go. I didn’t get a chance to see the famous St. Petersburg Ballet, Swan Lake, or visit all the famous monuments, but I managed to ‘get cultured‘ in my own little way, simply by talking to a local at a souvenir store…

Overwhelmed by hundreds of Russian dolls in all colours, shapes and sizes, I managed to find something unique that visitors most likely tend to overlook. At the checkout counter, hidden between ballerina ornaments, cranberry candy and yes, you guessed it, more Russian dolls, was a small container filled with tiny brass coloured spoons and coins.

A sucker for underdogs, I was intrigued. I could tell that not many visitors ask about these, as the sales lady seemed very excited to share their stories with me.

In Russia it is believed that these charms bring luck and wealth. The spoon symbolizes a shovel which is used to dig money. I asked a Russian friend to translate a phrase on the packaging: “Who becomes friends with it will know no sorrow. Luck, money and happiness will gather.” You’re supposed to keep it in your wallet: where there’s money the spoon will always provide more money.

Moving on to the mouse coin, I asked my friend to translate for me again: “If the mouse lives in the house, money stays in the house”. This has similar meaning to that of the spoon, but the story of the mouse coin has a little more to it…

It relates to a legend about a mouse that disturbed the sleep of a Russian Knyaz (prince). Irritated at first, his anger subsided once he realized that he was about to be attacked by a venomous snake. The mouse saved his life and in honour of this event the prince named the town Myshkin, derived from the Russian word Mysh, meaning Mouse.

I did some research and as legend has it, Myshkin exists a couple hundred miles North of Moscow. It’s unclear whether this was really is how the town got its name, but ironically it is home to one of the most famous Mouse Museums in the world.

From what I could gather, you can reach Myshkin by a boat river cruise – I’m already excited! If ornaments of rodents are not your thing, there seems to be a variety of other attractions, one being the Smirnoff Museum of Vodka where apparently you get a free shot – need I say more?

Places with quirky names such as ‘Mouse Inn’, ‘Mousetrap Restaurant‘ and ‘Kitty House’ are enough to spark my curiosity. I would love to visit Myshkin one day, but definitely in summer!

There you have it, folks: A bucket list travel destination straight out of a souvenir store!

Later that day I paid a visit to the State Hermitage Museum, second largest art and culture museum in the world, where I lost my ticket on the way to the entrance and someone handed it to the information desk. I guess my lucky charms worked!

If there’s one thing that travel has taught me it’s that the most ordinary experiences can sometimes add the greatest value to a trip. We all travel for different reasons, but to make sure you get the most out of it, it’s good to know what makes you tick.

In my case, it’s the small things: Mouse tales > Monuments

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29 thoughts on “St. Petersburg: Souvenirs and their stories

  1. I was aware that Russia is famous for its Matryoshka dolls and FabergΓ© eggs as souvenirs, but I had no idea that spoons were also a thing! The story behind the mouse one was cute, and it’s really cool to learn about the history of the small things in a foreign country. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I concur with your thoughts. Simple experiences are still thrilling when you are in another part of the world. Visiting the markets in a country like Laos or Bangladesh is very different from Sydney Australia, or Stockholm, Sweden.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This is something very modern, and most likely started to be on sale very recently. I even have a hypothesis, why – most likely that’s because the Year of the Rat became the Year of the Mouse :), based on what I know about my compatriots. (I was born in Saint Petersburg).

    Liked by 3 people

      1. No, I didn’t. But these kinds of legends are “local legends,” which local people like to tell about their places. So since I never been to Myshkin, I wouldn’t know. It’s not like Kolobok or something equally well-known. I am pretty sure that if I visited a place when I was a child, I would have heard of this legend

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! Still haven’t been to Moscow – apparently that’s a must. But after this experience I would actually like to spend some time in the countryside, or whatever it is they call small towns away from the city πŸ™‚ If you do go, it’s great! Much less touristy than Europe, for example. And the locals seem very welcoming to tourists..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s fair. I hear they have some stunning scenery, especially out towards Siberia. XD

        The lack of tourists doesn’t surprise me. Russia has a bad reputation politically and I think that’s why a lot of people stay away, which is sad. They have a fascinating history and culture.

        Like

      2. I don’t think it’s selfish to like the tourist free aspect. It’s nice to having to compete for a spot to look at things or do activities. πŸ™‚ Same here!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Russia is my first and only Love as far as traveling destination is concerned.. 😊 ❀ πŸ‡·πŸ‡Ί

    The dolls which you showed are Matryoshka dolls. They are so beautiful and unique.
    Thank you Madam for sharing about your Russian sojourn.. ❀

    I went to Russia during December 2018 to celebrate my Birthday..!! Needless to say that I loved each microsecond of the time I spend there in Russia..!!

    Do check my blog for the post..!! Would love your feedback.. ❄❄❄❄
    Next time, do visit the Russian Lapland during Winters.. You will never regret it (only if you like harsh winters, that is)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh that first love always has a special place in ones heart! I just saw your posts, looks miserably cold! But I would definitely refer back to the tips and recommendations you’ve given if I ever go for a longer stay! Hopefully in Summer – growing up in sunny South Africa made me basically allergic to cold weather πŸ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by again, always nice to hear from you

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it’s a bit sad to know that you don’t like cold. I am currently in India, which is predominantly a hot country, and I crave for Ice and Cold (though most of India doesn’t.. πŸ˜› ).. Guess I am a chionophile .. ❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄
        Thank you Madam for paying a visit to the post.. πŸ™‚ It would be an honour for me if you refer my suggestions the next time you are in Russia, during Winters, when the Magic Reigns Supreme..!! ❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post – love the mouse and spoon, had no idea that the spoon was such a classic souvenir (although we do have a borscht spoon from our Russia trip!). St Petersburg is a fantastic city to visit! Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was interesting to learn! Speaking to Russians however it seems these tales are tied to specific cities or became more popular in recent years as a tourist attraction… not exactly sure but it definitely tickled my fancy and made my trip memorable πŸ™‚

      Like

    1. Thanks so much for taking interest in this post! It might be that the mouse tale is only well known in Myshkin, or even that it’s just a tourist attraction haha, because you’re not the first Russian to tell me that you didn’t know about this. Anyway, it was an interesting story and made my day there memorable! πŸ™‚
      What are the painted wooden spoons used for? Are they collectibles?

      Liked by 1 person

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