Easter Egg

We’ve all seen them, or at least pictures of them, the beautifully crafted Faberge Easter eggs made famous in the late 19th century. But what’s so special about them anyway? This week, we’re exploring how a young goldsmith’s art pieces became mini monuments of Russia’s past.

 

 

See a complete collection of Faberge style Easter eggs.

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Happy International Women’s Day to all the lovely ladies around the world!! Celebrated every March 8th, the holiday was first observed in the early 1900s in the United States as a way to bring political and social awareness to the struggles of women worldwide. 

 

Over the years, it blended the cultures of many countries and took particular hold in Europe and the former Soviet Bloc. In many regions the holiday lost its political edge and simply became an occasion for people to express their love and appreciation of women. Think Mother’s Day meets Valentine’s Day.

 

Candy mix

 

In Russia and many other former Soviet countries, traditional gifts given to mothers, daughters, grandmothers and aunts include flowers and chocolate. Delicate spring flowers like yellow Mimosas and Lily of the Valley have come to symbolize femininity and are often associated with March 8th.

 

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spring-cleanse

 

Spring is almost here! Soon the birds will begin chirping again. Butterflies will flutter their beautiful wigs, and leaves will once again start budding. Just as mother nature creates a nurturing environment for new life to spring forward, our bodies and minds are ready for a spring cleanse and rejuvenation.

 

As we peel the layers of warm winter clothes, our bodies are ready for a cleanse and rejuvenation. We’re sharing a few helpful tips to cleanse, detox, and rejuvenate your body.

 

Ready to cleanse? Promo code TOP-BEAUTY saves 35% on your next order of select Health & Beauty products.

 

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Lenten Ingredients

The Great Lent is a 40 day spiritual preparation for Pascha (Easter) marked by reflection, personal improvement, repentance and fasting. Much like the Greeks and other Eastern European cultures, Russian Orthodox Christians begin observing Great Lent on “clean Monday”, a time to cleanse and purify everything from the clothes we wear, the pots and pans we cook with and most importantly, our bodies and souls.

 

 

Yes, Lent is the time for making auspicious changes. But it doesn’t have to be about complete deprivation. In Slavic tradition, the ritual of fasting for six weeks involves a progressive giving up of certain foods, beginning with meat. Fish, eggs and dairy, as well as olive oil are not allowed after the third week. Without getting into the nitty gritty of the Church rules, we’re helping you navigate through foods you CAN eat and sharing delicious recipes for Russian mushroom soup, cabbage soup and traditional eggplant ikra (veggie spread).

 

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Maslenitsa is a Holiday of indulgence and reverence before the Great Lent. As far back as Kievan Rus’, people celebrated Maslenitsa by indulging in food and fun for seven days. According to Orthodox tradition, this is the last week people can consume milk, eggs, and butter before embarking on a 40 day lent.

 

maslenitsa

 

Each day of Malenitsa has a special meaning and reflects a hybrid of Christian traditions and pagan festivities of ancient Rus’. The Holiday is a bidding of farewell to harsh winters and welcoming in of a new and plentiful Spring season. A week-long journey of family, food and fun, Maslenitsa starts with an official welcoming of the Holiday on Monday.

 

 

 

 

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RussianFoodDirect is excited to introduce an exclusive rewards program called #MyRussianRewards. Each week we will introduce a series of our TOP SELLING products and offer BIG SAVINGS for a limited time.

 

Promo codes will be available weekly and only on the blog. This is our way of saying THANK YOU for your loyalty! Ready to save? 

 

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Blini with black caviar

Cupid’s arrow is about to strike the hearts of lovers once again. Yet as every woman knows, cupid is secondary if you can keep your honey’s stomach satisfied. This year, skip the Valentine’s Day dinner date and go straight for a romantic breakfast with your amour. Treat your partner to a luxuriously tasty creation of Russian mini blini with black caviar and fresh red mimosas with retro “Sovetskoe” champagne.

 

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borscht

 

Borscht is one of the most recognizable words in the world. A hearty soup served in all regions of the Former Soviet Union. From the nobles to the peasants, borscht has graced the tables of generations of Russians, Ukrainians and many other Easter European cultures. 

 

Regional politics aside, the history of borscht is quite difficult to trace. Most gastronomic historians do agree that it likely originated in ancient Kievan Rus. Back then Kiev was the capital of greater Russia and likely was the birthplace of this marsh of beets, carrots, onions, potatoes and cabbage.

 

The name is derived from the Slavic word “borschevik” translated as “hogweed” in English. Hogweed is a sturdy plant, and distant cousin of modern-day carrots, that still grows in many parts across Russia and Ukraine. 

 

Its shoots have been used for hundreds of years as a sugar substitute due to their sweet flavor. The leaves were often used for salads or as a side dish of greens. Boiling the leaves produced a wonderfully aromatic stock for soups, adding a distinct mushroom aroma. It’s not far fetched to think then, that original recipes of borscht called for borschevik, rather than beets, as its main ingredient.

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Braised cabbage (tushyonaya kapusta) is a deliciously Russian dish, made by slowly cooking finely shredded cabbage with carrots and onions. During the Soviet days of limited food supplies, braised cabbage was one of the most popular and hearty dishes. It was indeed the Soviet version of comfort food. But what’s so special about cabbage anyway?

 

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Cabbage has been cultivated for thousands of years. Ancient Romans loved it for its nutritional value as much as a remedy for hangovers, and even healing wounds. That’s right, cabbage soaked in vinegar was consumed before embarking on a evening of heavy drinking as early as 8th century BC. Caesar’s armies are known to have carried cabbage leaves to treat wounds and reduce infection and inflammation. Indeed, modern studies have confirmed that cabbage has antibacterial properties.

 

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On January 6th, many Orthodox countries including Russia will celebrate Christmas Eve — also known as “Sochelnik”. While the date of Russian Christmas has always been on January 7 many traditions have changed over the past 200 years. In this post, we explore a number of folkloric rituals, and illuminate the differences between Russian Orthodox and Western Christmas customs.

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kutia

 

What is “Sochelnik”?

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Sochelnik comes from the Russian word “sochivo” – literally a liquid made from soaking wheat grains, and used instead of butter since no animal products are allowed to be consumed during the holiday. A simple porridge dish made with sochivo is known as “kutya.” The porridge is prepared with honey, poppy seeds, nuts and dried fruits – symbolizing immortality, success and happiness. Eating the grain porridge on Christmas Eve is also an homage to Daniel’s Fast on his journey to discovering God. (See a simple recipe for authentic sochivo at the end of this post). According to Orthodox tradition, on the eve before Christmas it is customary to fast until the first start is visible in the night sky.

 

 

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New Year is the most beloved and celebrated holiday among Russians. Full of rich history, fascinating traditions and amusing customs, New Year celebrations trace back to Pagan Rus’. Back in those days, the year’s beginning was celebrated with the beginning of nature’s revival — usually in mid-March.

 

christening russiaSometime in the late 14th or early 15th century, came the Christening of the Great Rus’, and with it a new set of chronology and traditions. Adopting the European Julian calendar, the Orthodox Church officially moved the beginning of the year from March to September as a way to conform to the Nicean canons.

 

This shift signaled the growing importance of Christianity in the Old Rus’. And so it was that the New Year was now celebrated on September 1st with organized festivities and decoration of trees.

 

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If you haven’t gotten everything you want for Christmas, there is still time. We’ve compiled a list of five MUST HAVE items to keep you warm, satisfied and beautiful for the New Year.

 

 

1. Russian Souvenirs are the perfect gifts for anyone interested in all things RUSSIAN. From Faberge-style eggs, to themed kitchen accessories and decorative plates – you’ll find a gem or two in our collection of the most sought after souvenirs. For the fashionistas in your life, we’ve got traditional woolen shawls and scarves. If you’re feeling adventurous, spring for the USSR military “Ushanka” hat, complete with ear flaps and emblematic Soviet red star. Classic Russian toys like “Kolobok” and “Nevalyashka” are a fun way to introduce traditional children’s characters to the little ones in your life.

 

Caviar2

 

2. Caviar is the ultimate Russian indulgence for the Holidays! Luxuriously rich and nutty, black roe caviar is derived from the wild Hackleback Sturgeon (Paddle Fish) and is a perfect pairing to your hors d’oeuvres platter or mini sandwiches. Tsar’s Red caviar makes a great garnish for deviled eggs or small toasts — uber popular and fit for royalty.

 

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