Russia is in the quarter-finals!
The ‘Northern Bear’ was, according to The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, an old nickname for Russia. And it is still true that Russia (in political cartoons) is usually depicted as a bear, even though only very few cities have the bear in their coat of arms, the Country’s coat of arms features an eagle, not a bear. However, it seems that Russia didn’t mind but embraced this view, at least judging by this souvenir from the late 5os:
Here is where I have to admit that I have never been to Russia! My interest in the country and its ‘peculiarities’ started in my teens when I found out that my grandmother (who passed away before I was born) had been raised in Riga (Latvia – when it was under Russian control).
I learned the language (not terribly well but good enough to put to use when I jobbed as a student in what was then West-Berlin) and continue to pick up items that suit my interests.
For example, this version of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’: