asked by Collette, NY
this remarkable tradition does exist and has it roots in the times of ancient Russia. By saying ancient I really mean it is one of the superstitions of pre-Christian Russia.
Our pagan ancestors believed that the good and bad spirits surround every human and his house , so like in Ancient Rome the special rites accompanied every event of man's life. This particular custom, which requires to sit for a second in silence before leaving your house, is one of them.
Originally this ritual let the traveler put his thoughts together and was suppose to trick domestic spirits. It was suppose to make them stay home and not follow him in his journey. People thought that, if man leaves without this preparation the bad luck will follow him, because most likely on his way out he will recall something he forgot to take and will have to return...and that will definitely mean that he will not have a tail-wind , because offended spirits will spoil his travel and he might never come back.
Well, those times are gone...and hardly anyone will know the origin of this tradition. But it's still there and once again thanks to 70 years of Soviet Union all traditions mixed up and now this ritual of siting before leaving the house is spread among all nationalities and religions.
Even those who left the territory of ex-USSR long time ago are easy to spot. Regardless of their assimilated names and lastnames already dressed for traveling they will make every member of family (grandma, baby, cat including) sit in silence for few moments before opening the door.