Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dacha (Russian: да́ча) is a name for summer home or vacation house in Russia and CIS countries where people spend their summer holidays and grow fruit and vegetables for their own use. A dacha often has a separate banya (Russian: ба́ня, meaning sauna) attached to it.
The need to grow vegetables at a dacha was due to food shortages experienced in Russia. To this day, May Day holidays remain a feature of Russian life, allowing urban residents a long weekend to plant potatoes for the long winter.
In archaic Russian, the word 'dacha' used to mean 'something given' as 'dachas' were estates given to loyal vassals by the Tsar.
In Soviet times the tradition continued – prominent officials or cultural figures were granted to use state-owned vacation houses as a part of their compensation package, though this right had to be revoked when the official was dismissed or went out of favor.
State-owned vacation houses were named 'gosdacha (gosudarstvennaya dacha, or state-dacha). In modern Russia, President's Administration continue to own numerous estates throughout the country, that are leased, often on non-market terms, to government officials. In modern times many oligarchs live only at their dachas, so they make huge and very expensive palaces (with construction costs often reaching several $ millions) with armed guard and several barriers around them, when dachas of casual citizens are most often just one-story weary wooden buildings.
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