“Russian Maslenitsa” Charity Dinner in the Russian Embassy
Welcoming remarks by Ambassador Anatoly Antonov at the "Russian Maslenitsa" Charity Dinner:
Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you at the annual celebration of the “Russian Maslenitsa”. Thank you for your participation in today’s charity event.
It’s amazing how an ancient pagan tradition to bid farewell to winter and celebrate the arrival of spring was integrated in the Orthodox calendar. For centuries it remained as one of the favorite folk holidays in Russia. Here, thousands of miles away from our country, this tradition has become a uniting element for members of the local Russian community. Maslenitsa is celebrated in many American cities. In New York our compatriots even hold public festivities in the Central Park. For more than 20 years Maslenitsa at the Russian Embassy has served as a good occasion to get together for a noble cause – to help families in need, nursing homes, provide expensive medical treatment for children through charitable foundations of our Orthodox parishes.
Wherever Maslenitsa is celebrated, it’s always accompanied by traditional pancakes, which are served on your tables today, and loads of fun. The tradition to make pancakes stems from pre-Christian times – they symbolized the Sun, which sped up the beginning of spring and awakening of the nature. With the adoption of Christianity, Maslenitsa received a new notion: to eat one’s fill before the Lent. Nowadays, this holiday is associated with family reunion: gentlemen would indulge themselves eating pancakes from their mothers-in-law, and ladies serve the best dainties they have to the guests.
Today, on the first day of spring I hope to see happy smiles on your faces. The organizers have prepared an exciting entertainment program. And we are grateful to them for that.
For many years parishes of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and St. Nicholas Cathedral have maintained the good Maslenitsa tradition. I would like to express special gratitude to Mrs. Maria Potapova, Mrs. Suzanne Tolstoy and Ms. Marina Putyatine, who put their heart and energy every year in organizing this event. There is a person whose name I’m always honored to mention – Ms. Susan Carmel, one of the main sponsors of today’s dinner, who consistently promotes cultural and educational ties between Russia and the United States.
I wish you all a very pleasant evening!