Last week was Масленица (Maslenitsa), also known as ‘Butter Week’. This is a week at the end of winter in which people celebrate the last week before the ‘Great Fast’ (the fasting period before Eastern). Believers of the orthodox religion fast for 8 weeks before Eastern, and as the dates for Eastern are not always the same, the week of Maslenitsa is always a different one. This year it started on February 20, lasting a full week.
Despite being celebrated as a Christian tradition nowadays, Maslenitsa originates from a Pagan tradition, making it probably the oldest Slavic tradition. The end of winter is being celebrated, and as meat is already ‘forbidden’ in this week because of the fasting period, eggs, milk, cheese, and other dairy products are very important during Maslenitsa, hence the name ‘Butter Week’ or also ‘Crepe week’. One of the most typical types of food for this week are bliny – pancakes made out of butter, eggs and milk.
During Maslenitsa every day has its own meaning and tradition. On Monday, the Welcoming day, people make the straw-stuffed figure of Winter, dressed in old women’s clothing, which is called Maslenitsa. The rest of the week is full of playing games, dressing up in carnival costumes, meeting mother-in-laws, and just eating a lot of pancakes. However, Sunday is the most important day during Maslenitsa – the Sunday of Forgiveness. People ask each other for forgiveness and burn the previously made straw figure in a bonfire, the ashes are then buried to fertilize the crops. The end of Maslenitsa is the following Monday – the Clean Monday, which is the first day of the Great Lent and the day for cleaning all of the mess from the previous week.
A good Russian friend of mine summarised Maslenitsa in very simple words “Russians cook pancakes and eat it all day long”. I am not religious but as a big fan of pancakes I found this week to be the perfect ‘excuse’ for making some just for me and have a little Maslenitsa myself. Funnily, in the past week I got to enjoy pancakes four times in total unintentionally, so it was a true Pancakes week for me.
Pancakes are also very common for Austria, but we make them thinner and call them ‘Palatschinken’. When I was younger my grandma used to make them quite often, filled with a thin layer of any jam that we had at home and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Years later I have already found my own ‘perfect’ recipe how I like pancakes the best. I usually always have ripe bananas at home, as well as almond milk and oats. So it happens to be a vegan recipe that is very simple, you don’t have to weigh anything. Of course you can also use an egg instead of the banana but I just prefer the sweet taste that the banana gives the pancakes.
The recipe is very simple:
- 1 mug of oats
- 1 mug of almond or oat milk
- 1 ripe banana
- a pinch of of salt, cinnamon and grated nutmeg
Put everything in a blender until you have a nice smooth dough. Heat some vegetable or coconut oil in a pan to medium heat. With a ladle scoop some of the dough into the pan to make some nice golden brown pancakes.
I usually just put maple sirup, sliced bananas, or any other fruits that I have at home (especially berries are very delicious with it), or also just jam on top of the pancakes to make them even tastier.
It is a super easy, very delicious and not time consuming recipe! Perfect for a little Maslenitsa celebration ;)