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Russia celebrates Maslenitsa with pancakes and snowfights

March 11, 2013

Maslenitsa is a week-long Eastern Slavic festival in Russia, this year beginning March 11 and ending March 17. Open-air celebrations will take place across Russia and will conclude in the burning a straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa, which symbolizes a harsh winter, according to Russia Beyond the Headlines. Other events include a snow battle where one team builds and defends a snow fortress while the other team attempts to conquer it.

The festival has roots in both pagan and Christian traditions. Originally symbolizing the end of winter and the beginning of spring, Maslenitsa later became a time to prepare for the end of Lent in the Orthodox tradition. Like many practices involving Lent, there are limitations on permitted foods and, even better, there are tasty ways to compensate.

Though Orthodox believers are forbidden meat, they are permitted cheese and other dairy products. The traditional food of Maslenitsa is flat pancakes called blini. In the past, blini were the symbol of the spring sun according to pagan traditions. In the present, they're simply delicious.

The number of recipes is truly immense. Sour dough, wheat, rye and buckwheat flour are only the start of the options.

Those interested in Maslenitsa can make calls to Russia using international phone cards.


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