Monday, February 15, 2010

Maslenitsa - “Butter Week”

Blini” (thin pancakes, like crepes) - piled high, butter slathered so thick that it drips over and onto the plate.  

Lots of toppings:  fresh sour cream, homemade jam, honey, caviar.

This, is Maslenitsa!  

Sophi and I hopped on Tram #2 and went to our local Maslenitsa celebration.  
It was held not far from our district’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

In fact, right next door, at the “Ice Palace” skating rink. 
A fitting place for this holiday which is part religious, part pagan.
Maslinitsa is the celebration of the SUN!  - the party at the end of winter and the beginning of Spring. 

It is the last week before Orthodox Lent.  
Meat is already forbidden during this week, but milk products are still allowed.  
And so, blini, like little ‘suns,” yellow with butter, are eaten in huge quantities.

There was a long line at the blini table.
Tea, from the Samovar.

Some like their blini with caviar . . . and, apparently, mandarin oranges.  

Sophi was happy with her balloon!

There was lots of music - mostly Russian pop, with some folk music thrown in for good measure.

There were games for the children.  

And, Sophi joined in the fun.

All the while, holding tightly to her precious balloon.

At the end, we all went to a little snow hill, where the “Maslenitsa Girl” was waiting.  

She is the symbol of winter, 
of cold and snow and ice, 
of all our hardships, 
of our cold hard hearts - toward God and toward each other. 
And so, we say “Good-bye!” to all she has been . . . 
and, with her ashes, we will plant the seeds of Spring.  

I have to admit, it was a little scary for Sophia.  She asked me several times why the doll was being burned up.  
The deep “narodni”/ folk wisdom was a little beyond my almost 4 yr old. 
On our way home, as we waited for our Tram #2,  we played “Hide and Seek” - “Peek-A-Boo” style.
“Here I am, MOM!  Do you see me?”

“Mom, you can’t see me!”
Finally, our tram came.  
Quiet and warm. . . 
gently rocking back and forth on iron rails . . . 

Like a mobile metal lullaby for a tired, little red-cheeked girl...
holding on to her precious balloon. . . 
      which burst as soon as we walked in our apartment door.

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