Voices from Russia

Sunday, 17 March 2013

17 March 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. The Traditions of Celebrating Maslenitsa

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. The Traditions of Celebrating Maslenitsa. 2013


On 11 March, Maslenitsa began in Russia… the last seven days before the onset of Lent. Maslenitsa is one of the most exciting, colourful, and lively folk holidays, which, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with paganism, but rather has a direct relationship to Orthodox Easter. Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy (MDA), told RIA-Novosti, “The time to celebrate Maslenitsa is tied to Easter, for Maslenitsa, the last week before Lent, begins exactly eight weeks before Easter. In terms of church canons, Maslenitsa is a half-holiday. During Maslenitsa, we don’t eat meat, but you can eat every other non-Lenten food, including dairy products… abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays is cancelled. During Maslenitsa, services on Wednesday and Friday are particularly long, just like in Lent, with many prostrations. The idea behind the canons is to gradually bring Christians into Lent”. Meanwhile, pancakes, once perceived as a pagan symbol of the sun, with the Christianisation of Rus, became the traditional festive meal in “Cheese Week“, just as kulich and paskha cheese (click here and here for recipes) celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of Christ.

11 March 2013





Saturday, 14 April 2012

14 April 2012. VOR Presents… YUM! The Traditional Easter Foods

On 13 April, Christians marked the most sorrowful day of Holy WeekGood Friday. Believers brought to mind the Passion and Crucifixion of the Saviour to atone for human sin. Despite the fact that not everyone followed the Church’s guidelines, and not everyone shall attend services, both believers and unbelievers prepare for Easter with the same pleasure. Today, under the heading “Yum”, we’ll offer you the traditional dishes found on the Easter table.


Since olden days, the preparation for Easter began with Holy Thursday. On this day, people cleaned the whole house sparkling clean, painted and decorated eggs, and prepared the Paskha, besides baking the kulich, honey cakes, and fine pastry in the form of lambs, roosters, and pigeons.


The egg is the main symbol of Easter Sunday, as an egg contains new life. At Easter, believers greeted one another by giving each other coloured eggs. Usually, people dyed the eggs on Thursday, and they had them blessed in the church on Saturday.


Another distinctive treat is an Easter cake, the kulich. Kulich is actually a special “holiday” kind bread. The dough has much more butter, eggs, and sugar in it. In the image above, we see a kulich weighing 120 kilos (@265 pounds), about one metre (@39.5 inches) tall, baked in Kazan.


Of particular importance is how we decorate kulichi. Traditionally, formed the cross using nuts or raisins, or they wrote the initials “XB”… “Christ is Risen” (Христос воскресе: Khristos Voskrese, in Slavonic). However, those aren’t the only decorations… it all depends on your imagination. Normally, people ice the kulichi with fondant, and decorate them with icing sugar and poppy seeds.


Some people add spices or flavourings to their kulichi, usually, vanilla, cardamom, or nutmeg. In the image above, students at an Orthodox  gimnaziya in Vladivostok decorate kulichi.


Making kulichi has always been one of a housewife’s most important duties… for the success of her cake portends the fate of her family. If it all goes well and turns out right, then, the family will be fine, but if the dough doesn’t rise in the oven or it has a cracked crust, well, that’s a portent of disaster. In the image above, we see the making of kulichi in the bakery of the Danilovsky Monastery in Moscow.


Cheese Paskha is in the form of a truncated pyramid, which symbolises the grave. Of course, the great miracle of the Resurrection triumphed over it. Therefore, the letters “XB”, signifying “Christ is risen”, are on the side.


In the image above, we see people with food to be blessed at St Michael the Archangel parish in Sochi, on Holy Saturday.


13 April 2012

Voice of Russia World Service


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