|This year, on March 11, 2013 my family and I will celebrate Russian folk holiday by the name Maslenitsa (means butter week). Let me begin first by telling you what this holiday means and then talk about its history.
Maslenitsa is an Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent—that is, the seventh week before Eastern Orthodox 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 imminent end of the winter.
On the Christian side, Maslentisa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent. During the week of Maslenitsa, meat is already forbidden to Orthodox Christians, making it a meat free week. It is the last week during which milk, cheese and other dairy products are permitted, leading to its other name of “Cheese-fare week” or “Pancake week”. During Lent, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs are forbidden. Furthermore, Lent also excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from the spiritual life. Thus, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to eat dairy products and participate in those social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lent season.
The last day of Cheese-fare Week is called “Forgiveness Sunday”, indicating the desire for God’s forgiveness that lies at the heart of Great Lent. At Vespers on Sunday evening, all the people make a prostration before one another and ask for forgiveness, and Great Lent begins in the spirit of reconciliation and Christian love. Another name for Forgiveness Sunday is “Cheese-fare Sunday,” because for devout Orthodox Christians, it is the last day on which dairy products may be consumed until Easter. Fish, wine and olive oil will also be forbidden on most days of Great Lent. The day following Cheese-fare Sunday is called Clean Monday, because everyone has confessed their sins, asked for forgiveness, and begun Great Lent with a clean slate.
Based on those traditions my family’s celebration includes baking a lot of pancakes (crêpes) and inviting our friends to our house. I’m the one who is responsible for making crêpes and I enjoy the process a lot. My husband is always around while I’m making the crêpes, so he can have one right out of the hot pan, because that is when they are the most delicious. We eat crêpes with different filings, and the most popular is with red caviar and sour cream.
This year we actually started our Butter week earlier and I made crêpes this week, since we all missed the taste of wonderful crêpes.
Here is a recipe of the crêpes for about 20 servings.
12 oz of flour
4 cups of milk 2%
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 once of grape oil
Approximately ¼ lbs of butter
In a small bowl, combine the milk, eggs and butter. Combine flour and salt; add to milk mixture and mix well.
Lightly butter 8-inch skillet; heat over medium heat until bubbly.
For each crepe, pour 2 tablespoons batter into skillet; immediately rotate skillet until batter covers bottom.
Cook until golden brown.
Run wide spatula around edge to loosen; turn and cook other side until golden brown.
Stack crepes in a flat dish and pour 1 teaspoon melted butter to each crêpe.