Yet again Lent begins in a week and yet again the Internet is swarmed with “pancakes for Maslienitsa”. And to fight even a little bit with Russian world I have to write this little “enlightenment” text. It would be good to do it last week, but I had lots of work.
I do not claim that it is something terribly ethnographic or scientific, but I will systemize a little what I know.
In Ukraine there two parallel traditions –
- Centre, East and South celebrate Masnytsi (sometimes also called Masliana), which are also called Kolodiy (but, mind, not maslienitsa!). In household some other names can also be used, for example “Zahovyny”. Masnytsi is the same as Buttery, Greasy, Fat week in many cultures.
- Western regions of Ukraine name this week Zapusty/Zapust, Syropust (because you are also allowed to eat cottage cheese and other cheese products).
But be it as it may, the point of the last week before Lent in Ukraine – is to prepare yourself for it both spiritually and physically. The food becomes lighter, we do not eat meat since previous week (Miasopust). So, basically, it is calm time, reconciliation with yourself and others, efforts to end offences, waiting for Lent. It finishes with Shrove Sunday.
In gastronomic dimension typical for Ukraine are varenyky with cottage cheese, cheese muffins, cheese pancakes and things like that. It is Syropust. Nobody also forbids to eat pancakes. In our culture they also have big symbolic meaning – the Sun, waiting and arriving of Spring.
And now let’s just for a second look at Russia – Maslienitsa is characterized by loud entertainments, competitions, fights, lots of food and alcohol. Because “let’s knock ourselves out while we still can”. Proverb “After dinner comes the reckoning” – is also about this, get your hands on it once and that’s all, enough. So here we talk more about active, sometimes even aggressive, entertainment and making a pig of yourself.
“Maslienitsa with pancakes” in its pop version was brought to us from the Soviet times, when there was a need to substitute older traditions with something. In fact, the same way as pagan traditions were substituted by Christian traditions. And the factw the names are similar (Masnytsi and Maslienitsa), well, nobody really goes into details here.
So, let’s cook varenyky and, at long last, fry pancakes and stop blindly following foreign for us traditions.
Here are those recipes I had in different times and which can come in handy this week:
By this recipe you can cook pyrogy with cottage cheese, and even with frozen cherries, just unfreeze then on a colander, so excessive juice can go.
Here the filling is from meat, but you can do it with cottage cheese and cabbage. Dough is very good for unsweet pyrogy.
I really love these with apples, because they are not like usual.
You can also make paliushky or “lazy pyrogy”.
And if you have a craving for pancakes, then why not?
There recently was a text about pancakes, but I will still remind you.
Wonderful green spinach
and not less wonderful pumpkin (you can still buy a pumpkin)
So make varenyky, fry pancakes, cook what you love, but please, don’t call this period Maslienitsa.