The origin of the word for "thank you" in Russian relates to why Russia really fascinates me. The old customs. The traditional, ancient lifestyles. The people (народ) themselves. The full integration of simple Christian facets in everyday living.
Spasibo (спасибо) comes from two words: spasi (спасать/спасти = to save; to rescue) and Bog (Бог = God). Although it is a very old remnant of when Russia was a wholly Christian nation, each time someone said thank you, the person was saying, "God save you" or "God will save you." The combination of heartfelt gratitute and deep appreciation for God's saving grace is an encouraging reminder, although long forgotten now among Russians, of why I love Russia.
In the Western Christian tradition, the week preceeding Easter is called Holy Week. In contrast, in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the week proceeding Easter is called Holy Week. Instead, Orthodox Christians celebrate "Suffering Week" leading up to Resurrection Sunday. In fact, the work for "Sunday" (Воскресенье) in Russian literally means "Resurrection" (Воскресение). As our professor explained the other day in class, our "Sunday" is a pagan tradition, whereas their "Resurrection" celebrates the life, death, and resurrection of Christ every week. I didn't have the heart to tell her that attending church on Sunday (a rare concept in the former atheist Soviet Union) celebrates this as well.