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DACHA (DAH-chuh)

A Russian country house or villa
Common clues: Vladivostok villa; Putin's getaway;
Russian country house; Russian villa; Black Sea bungalow
Crossword puzzle frequency: once a year
Frequency in English language: 42065 / 86800
Stalin’s dacha at Sochi

Dacha is a name for a 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. Dachas of the middle class sometimes have a separate banyas (sauna) attached to the house. The house is usually wooden nearly always hand-built.

Dacha of Boris Pasternak in Peredelkino.

In archaic Russian, the word 'dacha' used to mean 'something given' as 'dachas' were estates given to loyal vassals by the Tsar. The common term for a dacha farmer is 'dachnik'.

Dachas began to appear after the WWII. The reasons for their appearance were on one side the desire of city people, all living in blocks of flats, to spend some time at nature and on the other side the need to grow vegetables. Such need was caused by food shortages experienced due to Soviet agricultural policy.

In the very beginning dachas of common people were practically illegal but since there was no actual law against them more and more people grabbed unused plots of ground first on the city outskirts, then near villages located close to their city. As time passed the number of dachniks grew geometrically and they have since been officially legalized. Legalization brought local government representatives in the form of so-called "Gardeners' Societies" together with electricity and water conduits for irrigation.

In Soviet times 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.

To this day May Day holidays remain a feature of Russian life allowing urban residents, even of the largest cities, a long weekend to plant potatoes. There are no suitable state holidays to be used for the potato harvest, thus it is usually accomplished very quickly during a usual weekend. Some companies, especially the municipal ones, often give their staff an extra weekend day specifically for that purpose.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Dacha".