FLEX alumni and NSLI-Y students held a spring holiday celebration in February to share their unique cultural traditions, backgrounds, and experiences with one another while enjoying Moldovan dishes. This event was held to mark the start of spring through the celebration of both the Eastern European holiday Maslenitsa and the Moldovan holiday Martisor.
Maslenitsa is a Slavic religious and folk holiday, which marks the end of winter and the beginning of Spring. The week of Maslenitsa is the last week when Orthodox Christians consume eggs and dairy products prior to the start of Lent. Traditionally, people who celebrate this holiday prepare a dish called bliny, similar to a crepe and do special dances. Martisor is another holiday that marks the start of spring but is more specific to Moldova and Romania. Celebrated throughout the month of March, Martisor means the rebirth of life after winter and is also the name given to the traditional bracelets made of twisted red and white thread worn by Moldovans during the celebration.In the spirit of these two holidays, attendees discussed family traditions they have at home for both Maslenitsa and Martisor. The Alumni Coordinator in Moldova, Tatiana Paholinitchi ’11 (Drochia, Moldova/Anchorage, Alaska), who organized the celebration, led a workshop on how to make the Martisor bracelet. While crafting these bracelets, participants discussed what spring means to them, as well as the importance of retaining the cultural practices and traditional dishes of these celebrations. It was an engaging discussion, as there were alumni attending from different parts of the country and several program years, along with the NSLI-Y student from the U.S. Additionally, they had a great time talking about their exchange experiences, including their schools, communities, extracurricular activities, and the best and hardest moments of their exchange year. It was a great opportunity for everyone to practice English and Russian with native speakers.Maslenitsa is not complete without a pile of bliny! For lunch all of the participants enjoyed bliny and tea, and because it was a potluck, everyone brought their favorite toppings to share. There were both sweet and savory toppings to choose from including cream cheese, Nutella, condensed milk, home-made jelly, and bananas.
This celebration has become a tradition at the American Councils office in Moldova. Everyone went home with a new friend, knowledge of another culture, and a Martisor!
Written by Tatiana Paholinitchi ‘11