Imagine opening a box and seeing a creature in it that you have never seen before. Imagine asking around and discovering that this creature is unknown to science and mankind. What would you do? Does it depend on how cute the creature is? How nice? Would you keep it, give it to scientists, or simply let it free?

Though this scenario is very unlikely, one of Russian epic stories starts just like that: a store owner opens a new shipment of oranges and discovers a funny, cute, large-eared creature, which he calls Cheburashka (from a Russian colloquial word for ‘tumble’). The man doesn’t know what to do with Cheburashka and tries to take him to a local zoo, but no one knows what he is and with which animals to hold him, so the zoo doesn’t take the creature. Finally, Cheburashka is placed at a toy shop, where he feels very lonely and unneeded, as he has no friends. The amazing Tumbler answers an ad of another desperate creature, this time a real one – a crocodile named Gena, who also has no friends (of course, who wants to be friends with a crocodile).
Throughout the cartoon, Gena and Cheburashka spend their time meeting new friends and helping people and animals alike. The story has a wonderful morale – be friendly and nice, and help others. You can watch all 4 episodes of it here, if you’d like.

“Gena and his friends” was written by Eduard Uspensky in 1966 and was later made into a cartoon. Since then, Cheburashka and Gena are the favorite characters of people of different generations. In the mid ’70’s, the word of Cheburashka traveled the world and he became an international hero. For example, he is one of the most favorite cartoon characters of the Japanese; a cartoon was made about Cheburashka in Sweden; and there is even a saying that compares a woman to Cheburashka, because she loves with her ears. This mythical personage has over 82 000 followers on Facebook! Imagine that!

Now, you may ask why we are writing about this. Well, one of the reasons is to get people acquainted with Russian culture, while the other, possibly the main one, is to remind you of the importance of friends, reciprocity and kindness. In the cartoon, crocodile Gena says: “Do you know how many lonely people there are in our city.” Social media has satisfied our need to belong, but at times makes us forget of what’s important in life. We hope that this holiday season you will dedicate time and love to those who matter to you most.