13 February 2007


Maslenitsa (Pancake week) is a pure Russian Holiday that dates back to the pagan times ( including the endurance vodka drinking). For seven days Moscow would jingle with bells, sings with garmoshkas and glares with painted dresses. The people are supposed to let the long-annoying winter out and the long-awaited spring in (hopefully)...

The counters in the Maslenitsa are groaning with various dainties. There are the paunchy samovars with mellow tea, bunches of sweet-scented barankas, nuts and honey pies with different signs: "Whom I love - to those I give", "A present of the sweet-hart is the dearest". Salted foods, various fish, caviar and vodka as you may presume..

But the essential elements, of course, are pancakes (blinis or the russian crepe as I call it.). Pankacke is a symbol of sun. It is as round, gold and warm as the sun (and makes a really cheap lunch alternative when combined with cheese). Pancakes are served hot with either butter, or sour cream, or caviar, or mushrooms, or sturgeon - to any exquisite taste. (A Blini with black caviar costs around 50$ on the street)

On the last day of the Great Maslenitsa the feasting and drinking ends up by burning down the scarecrow symbolizing winter thus saying goodbye to winter till the next year.

For the Russians Maslenitsa is like a carnival for the Italians, especially because the initial sense of festivals is the same: the Italian word "carnival" (carne-vale) means "farewell the beef!", and Maslenitsa that precedes the Great Lent, in old time was called "Myasopust" because it was forbidden to eat meat during this week.

The last day of Maslenitsa is called the Forgiveness Day. Everybody ask one another for forgiveness in order to redeem themselves from their sins before the Great Lent. They bow to one another and say, "God will forgive you".

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