Sunshine and pancakes: that’s the theme of Maslenitsa! Loosely translated as Butter Pancake Week, Maslenitsa is a Slavic festival that originated in pagan times as a way to bid farewell to winter and welcome in the sunny season of Spring.
Maslenitsa (Russian Pancake Week)
The deliciously gluttonous week of sweet and savory blini – pronounced blee-nee (or singular blin), starts one week before the Great Lent.
A time for family merriment the traditions of celebrating Maslenitsa usually feature snowball fights, rides on horse-drawn sleighs, folk music and storytelling, and of course food.
Blini are usually baked in large quantities and shared among friends, family and neighbors to symbolize the sun and its warmth. Although various topics and even stuffing are now common, blini were typically drenched in butter – lending Maslenitsa its famous name (literally Butter Week).
So what makes blini different from pancakes and crepes?
Traditional Russian blini are made with buckwheat flour batter and have a slightly nutty flavor. Today, the super thin pancakes are prepared in hundreds of ways and are accompanied by everything from caviar and smoked salmon, to chopped eggs and sour cream.