Eastern Europe

Here Comes The Sun: Lemon Oladi For Maslenitsa

Here Comes the Sun: Lemon Oladi for Maslenitsa

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It has been an unprecedentedly long, unrelentingly cold, and oppressively dark winter. And while spring may still be a ways away, this week I caught subtle hints of its eventual arrival: an unexpected shaft of amber afternoon light; optimistic early morning birdsong; and a slight softening of the air on my face, as if I’d swapped out a flannel pillowcase for a cotton one. These small moments make me hopeful that the seemingly permanent grimy piles of snow will eventually melt, and huge bouquets of daffodils and mimosa will transform the dark grey corners of the city to brilliant yellow. 

 For millennia, Maslenitsa, Russia’s weeklong Shrovetide, has harnessed this yearning for warmth, light, and color into a vibrant festival of fire, food, and fun, which is just what the world needs right now — within acceptable social distancing guidelines, of course.

In Russia, where winter lasts almost half of the year, spring is a miraculous season of transformation and renewal.  Russians take this seriously: spring is a miracle, yes, but one that needs to be coaxed, wooed, and lured as one might a reluctant lover or long-lost friend.  And this is what is at the heart of Maslenitsa: in common with their Eastern European and Scandinavian neighbors, Russia’s celebration of Shrovetide is a passionate plea to the sun to return to earth, staged on a set still dressed for snowy winter.  Like its southern cousins, Carnival and Mardi gras, Maslenitsa is also a time to eat lots of rich, buttery foods — the holiday takes its name from “maslo” or butter — and using up all of the butter, cheese, milk, cream, and other dairy products before the long forty-day Lenten Fast, during which these are forbidden…

To read more visit The Moscow Times.

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1 comment

Robert Henry March 16, 2021 at 2:02 am

Yes, a happy sight was the appearance Mar. 13 of one male and one female cardinal (bird) on the still-bare branches of the small tree, six feet outside my front window. I joined my cats in staring out the window at the official bird of my state, pretty harbinger of spring.


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