Russian Resurrection (so-called)

When I was in Russia, I was told of a royal who died well before the revolution, who gluttonously overate bliny (Russian crepes) during Maslenitsa (a celebration held before Cheesefare week, whose origins are unfortunately pagan in origin; hence the gluttony). Unfortunately, the overeating and drinking caused the poor fellow’s stomach to explode. The story became a warning of gluttony before Great Lent.

People apparently never learn. —Joseph Suaiden, NFTU

( The pancake eating contest which took place over the weekend in the town of Chernyakhovsk, the Kaliningrad enclave, ended with a tragedy. The winner of the contest died when he went up to the stage to pick up his prize, The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper said.

The contest was held within the scope of Russia’s Maslenitsa, or Butter Week, which all Russians celebrate during the last days of February to see winter off. Many Russians make pancakes, or bliny, for the holiday and organize open air festivities with contests and concerts.

Boris Isayev, 48, was the most active participant of the contest. He ate all of the pancakes that were offered to the contestants. The man collapsed when he was walking up the stairs of the stage. He fell down on his knees suffocating with foam on his mouth, eyewitnesses said.

People took life-saving efforts – artificial respiration and cardiac massage – but the man did not come to his senses. Paramedics continued reanimating the man, although to no avail. They could only say that the cause of the man’s death would be determined as a result of the post mortem examination.

Everyone continued their celebrations after the ER vehicle took the body away. (Emphasis ours. NFTU)

Maslenitsa has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun festival, celebrating the imminent end of the winter.

On the Christian side, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent. During Maslenitsa week, meat is already forbidden to Orthodox Christians, making it a “meat-empty week” or “meat-fast week”. During Lent, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs are forbidden. Furthermore, Lent also excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from the spiritual life. Thus, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to partake of dairy products and those social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season.

March 4, 2009

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