As Lent begins for us this year, we have learned a bit more about the culture of Russia and its traditions. We have been able to take the beginning of this reflective time of year to establish new traditions and deeper connections.
Fun Fact Number один (a-deen; one): You know how we celebrate Mardi Gras in America? Well, we have been doing it all wrong. Here in Russia they celebrate, Масленица (Mas-len-itsa). Now you might be thinking Что это??? (Sch-to eta?; What is it???).
Well, my dear friends, Масленица is Blini Week. In other words, pancake week!! WOO! Mardi Gras will never be the same after living in Russia. Why celebrate for a day when you can celebrate for a week? With Blinis! Of every imaginable variety!
This feast originated as a way to welcome Spring. These fluffy flapjacks were intended to symbolize the sun that seems to go on vacation from this part of the world every winter. Now, in some parts of the country they would even burn a stuffed figure of a woman that symbolizes the Russian Mythological Goddess of Winter, Morana. While this is an interesting and slightly concerning tradition, let's turn our plates back to the Blinis, and their role as a precursor to lent.
After their week long pancake fest, they buckle down into an intensive lent. All across Russia, Orthodox Russians give up meat, milk, eggs, cheese, butter, and the like for the whole forty days. It is a time of sacrifice and reflection.
Just the other day, the Church cook Nastia was teaching us how to make traditional Russian food, but was very limited due to this fast. She ended up teaching us how to make Russian Potato Pancakes with potatoes and flour, because she can’t use eggs until Easter.
But wait! There’s more!
Fun Fact number два (dva; two): Lent in Russia begins with Forgiveness Sunday. So instead of Ash Wednesday, where we receive a reminder of our death and Christ’s Sacrifice, people go around to their family and friends, apologize and ask each other for forgiveness. What an incredible way to start the Lenten season!
When our Russian professor taught us this in class the other day, we were blown away and so excited.
Fun fact number три (tree; three): coincidentally, our Philosophy on Tap event focused on forgiveness, coincides with this day.
So as we spend this Sunday reflecting and discussing forgiveness and its importance with our friends; I challenge you to forgive those in your life who have hurt you and in turn ask forgiveness from those in your life that you may have hurt. It will heal your heart and soul, those around you, and prepare your heart for a deeper, more healing lent.
Thank you for becoming a part of our journey!
Please take the opportunity to check out our donate page! MJ and I each need to raise $1500 in order to return next year to continue our work here in Magadan! Please become part of our mission by donating! Спасибо большое! С Богом! (Many thanks and May God be with you! )