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Celebrating the End of Winter with Pancakes

Every year, Russians celebrate the end of winter by stuffing themselves with thin pancakes (blini) for six whole days! And that’s just the beginning! You also get 4 days off from school and work. Known as “Maslenitsa”, everyone on this holiday prepares these pancakes at home all week, and then celebrates with a big festival on the last Sunday of February.

 

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At these festivals, additional free blini are made and served to the public, families wear the fashionable Russian shawl (and sometimes the Russian headdress for the girls) and then a scarecrow is burned at the end. Dancing grandmas and little kids sing traditional folk music to bid farewell to winter and to welcome spring! Oh, and you might be wondering—what do these pancakes have to do with winter? Russia during the wintertime rarely sees any sun, where it’s just bright gray outside. Supposedly, these Russian pancakes look like the sun, and thus was used as the symbol of the sun and the arrival of spring.
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Maslenitsa is also the last week before the beginning of the Great Lent, where Eastern Orthodox believers are forbidden to eat meat, dairy and eggs. Luckily, my host family is atheist so there is no need for me to worry about no meat and no dairy in the house. So, with that being said, my host mom made blini for the occasion!

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Usually, you can add whatever ingredients you want to the blini, but the traditional choices to add are ground meat, smoked salmon, caviar, sour cream, condensed milk, jam or cottage cheese. All variants are delicious (and dangerous for the waist), but I HIGHLY recommend it with caviar for savory and with cottage cheese for sweet!

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And this is a small vacation before the next holiday that is coming up in March! Russians and much of the whole world will recognize and celebrate Women’s Day on the 8th of March. So no school and work for almost everyone!

I wonder what my host dad will cook for my host mom, and us (*thinks about what i want for dinner*).

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