My dear readers, I did not abandon my blog. We were traveling to Jamaica (the report is coming) plus we have an exchange girl from Russia living with us now. Plus it is cold in Atlanta and schools are closed which means my time is not mine anymore, but kids’. However, this week is special and I couldn’t miss it. Some have Mardi Gras, some celebrate Chinese New Year, but Slavics have Maslenitsa! Maslenitsa is Slavic Spring Festival – a celebration of the end of winter and the start of warmth, fun, hope and growth. Not surprisingly, it is a big deal in Russia.
From first-on-google-come reliable source(Wikipedia) Maslenitsa (Russian: Ма́сленица, Ukrainian: Масниця, Belarusian: Масьленіца, also known as Butter Week, Crepe week, or Cheesefare Week), is an Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent—that is, the eighth week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter). Maslenitsa corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday, and the Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date. Maslenitsa has its origins in both pagan and Christian traditions. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a celebration of the close end of the winter. During Lent, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs are forbidden. Thus, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to partake of dairy products and those social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season.
Maslenitsa activities also include snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings and plenty of sleigh rides. In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its traditional activity: one day for sleigh-riding, another for the sons-in-law to visit their parents-in-law, another day for visiting the godparents, etc. As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evening, Lady Maslenitsa (which also represents Winter) is stripped of her decoration and put to the flames of a bonfire.
The last day of Cheesefare Week is called “Forgiveness Sunday”, indicating the desire for God’s forgiveness that lies at the heart of Great Lent. At church service on Sunday evening, all the people make a bow before one another and ask forgiveness, and thus Great Lent begins in the spirit of reconciliation and Christian love
Sure enough that the most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny (pancakes or crepes). Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition that week. During pagan times, the round and golden shape and color signified praise to the Sun because of pancakes’ resemblance to it.
Here is a simple Russian pancake recipe (one of many)
1 cup. flour
3 cups. of milk ( made milk warm)
1-2 tbs of sugar
0.5 teasp. salt
0,5 teasp. soda
70 gramms melted butter
2 tbsp. of vegetable oil
0,5 average potato
Mix eggs with sugar. Add salt and flour and mix thoroughly. Add 3 cups of milk mixing slowly. The dough can be drained so that there are no flour lumps in it. Add butter. (butter can be replaced with oil). Let dough rest for at least 30 min. Pour vegetable oil into a saucer. Peel a potato and cut it into 2 parts; take one part with a fork and dip it in oil. Use it every time for greasing the pan with vegetable oil. (some use onion-I don’t know why) Heat the pan. Grease it. Cover thin layer of batter evenly. Cook until light brown, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Bliny can be served with butter, sour cream, fillet of sturgeon, salmon, meat, tvorog, jam, etc. The most popular is bliny with red caviar. I like it with caviar, but I also love Bliny with sour cream and sugar (my childhood’s brand name)
I also found a video on Youtube-they show it step by step. The best pan to use is a cast iron one, not what they show on the video.