This week in Russia has been the annual celebration Maslenitsa, or Butter week. It is the last week before lent where people all over the country feast upon Blini (pancakes) before their partial fast. It is combined as a festival of spring coming and on the last day of the festival a female scarecrow, the symbol of winter is burned to welcome in the spring.
The week starts fairly slow but each day has a theme, one for having pancakes with your in-laws, one for sweet pancakes, another for festivities and games, and so on. Sunday is the most important day, the day of forgiveness. On this day families take pancakes to their dead relatives in the cemetery as well as celebrate in major festivals included pancakes and animal fighting (sometimes even bears)
As you may have guessed I took full advantage of this holiday and have been eating pancakes left right and center. I began my feasting in Red square with a traditional condensed milk topping paired with a mug of hot mead to the background of fur clad drummers.
Then I did two nights of home cooked Blini from Smoked Salmon and cream cheese, to banana and Nutella, and cinnamon and sugar. These Blini were better than anything I found out on the streets.
The grand finale was on sunday in Red Square where there was a small state fair erected in the shadow of St.Basil's Cathedral. Here there were hundreds of people with scare crow face paint and colorful sunshine pinwheels. Blini were being served up hot- both sweet and savoury as children when flying down a big ice slide. Center stage however was a musical competition with performers in traditional style from all 12 regions of Russia.
It was a cold spring night and so we went home to have a pancake nightcap. I decided it would be best to do this in a personal way with Canadian Maple Syrup and butter.
I am full of Blini, ready for spring, and looking forward to tasting all of the special Lent menus.