Saturday, February 26, 2011

Perfect for Pancakes: Celebrating Maslenitsa

Malenitsa is the Orthodox Christian version of Mardi Gras--the celebration before Lent begins--but its origins are far more ancient as a Slavic festival celebrating the beginning of spring.  And just as, for Catholics,  Shrove Tuesday is often celebrated with pancakes,  pancakes are a central part of Maslenitsa celebrations as well.   It's known, variously, as Butter Week, Pancake Week, or Cheese Week.  But why pancakes?  It's said that their round, sunny face resembles the sun,  an infrequent sight this time of year.

With a little googling,  I found (via one of the places in the center of Kyiv to get pancakes.  At this stand in Shevchenko Park,  there are almost always lines of people awaiting their pancakes,  hot, fresh and rolled with jam, spiced apples, mushrooms,  or other fillings.   These pancakes,  also called blini, are more like crepes, and not like the big fluffy American pancakes.  Here's a link to a recipe for Grandma's Famous Blini's from Alexandria at Just a Pinch recipe club.
The week of Maslenitsa culiminates in Forgiveness Sunday.  Traditionally, villages would build a huge man of straw, a symbol of winter,  in a bonfire and burn away,  this symbol of winter,  apologizing to each other for the sins of the last year.  At Pyrohiv, the outdoor museum outside Kyiv,  the bonfire is still an annual event, drawing visitors out from the city and we hope, chasing the winter away!

Top image:  from Lugansk Food and bottom image of Pyrohiv from FlyUA Journal.

1 comment:

  1. > Maslenitsa

    Maslyanytya = Масляниця in ukr. - deived from the word 'масло' = butter.

    > These pancakes, also called blini,
    > are more like crepes

    also know as 'nalysnyky' = налисники