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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Eastern European Cooking / Welcome to the Eastern European Cooking Forum !
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    Welcome to the Eastern European Cooking Forum !

    Mon May 19, 2008 7:03 pm
    Forum Host
    Welcome to the Eastern European Cooking Forum !

    Eastern Europe is a concept that lacks one precise definition. It refers to a geopolitical region greatly influenced by the Cold War. In some definitions its borders are defined more by culture than by clear and precise geography. Throughout history and to a lesser extent today, Eastern Europe has been distinguishable from Western Europe and other regions due to cultural, religious, economic, and historical reasons. Although the term Eastern Europe was largely defined during the Cold War, it still remains much in use. The term is commonly used in the media and in everyday use both in "eastern" and other regions of Europe.

    There are many countries in Eastern Europe. Some are very small and others are very large. Each country has its own unique traditions that continue to be observed today. These customs are often very old, originating thousands of years ago when nomads and farmers, the Slavic peoples, began to populate that part of the world. The traditions that are practiced today combine ancient pagan rituals relating to the seasons and agricultural cycles with the holidays of Christianity (often Eastern Orthodoxy), and even the festival celebrations of the former Soviet Union

    The countries that make up Eastern Europe are :
    Bosnia & Herzegovina
    Czech Republic
    Serbia and Montenegro
    Slovak Republic

    Eastern Europe cuisine

    Think luscious figs and cherries, red peppers and aubergines, fresh white tangy cheeses, pasta and pancakes, spicy meat stews, then top it off with rich flaky pastries and cheesecakes - Eastern European food is more than just beetroot and buckwheat.

    General origins

    The late 20th century's reunification of Germany and war in former Yugoslavia highlight the extent to which the borders of Eastern Europe are man-made and political. Food does not tend to have the same respect for boundaries...
    However, in many parts of Eastern Europe there has been a comparative lack of economic and industrial development, and a preservation of the agrarian way of life. A key advantage of this is that the cuisine of the area has remained true to its roots - natural and authentic.

    Main influences

    Eastern European cuisine is perhaps most clearly described by looking at the areas surrounding the region. Near Russia and the countries of the former USSR, the food is rustic and hearty to withstand the cold northern climate. On the Baltic coast, the food has more in common with Scandinavia, drawing on seafood from the same waters.
    German and Austrian influences are strong on the Western side of the region. In the south, countries such as Bulgaria and those of the former Yugoslavia benefit from a Mediterranean climate and a cuisine that has much in common with neighbours such as Turkey, Greece and Italy.

    Eastern European Holidays :

    Many of Eastern Europe's holidays and festivals correspond to religious holy days (Catholic and Orthodox) and to national commemorations.


    New Year's Day. January 1 is the first day of the Gregorian calendar, which is used by most countries in Eastern Europe. This day is both a secular and a religious holiday commemorating the circumcision of Christ. In countries where Eastern Orthodoxy is the predominant religion, many celebrate January 1 as a civic holiday and January 14 as a religious holiday. The Eastern Church in Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland has adopted a modified Julian calendar, which incorporates both religious and civic holidays on January 1. In Russia, January 1 is a civil holiday and the biggest of the year, a holdover from the atheist Soviet government, which banned religious celebrations.


    Feast of St. Blaise. The patron saint of Dubrovnik (Croatia) is honored each February 3 by Catholics worldwide as a healer of throat ailments. But in Dubrovnik, the saint is also revered as the city's savior, a man who thwarted an attack by invading Turks. He is feted with parades, food, wine, and a workers' day off.

    Carnival. This pre-Lenten celebration begins in mid-February and ends at midnight on Shrove Tuesday in cities and villages all over the globe. It is celebrated to various degrees throughout Eastern Europe, but lavishly so in Rijeka, Croatia.


    National Days. March is a good month for national days in Eastern Europe. Bulgaria National Day is March 3 while Hungary's is March 15. Bulgaria also hosts March Music Days, a festival of classical music and composers, in March.


    Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. These movable feasts can fall in March or April, but they are both religious and civic holidays for Catholics and Eastern Rite Christians throughout Eastern Europe whenever they occur. Eastern Rite Easter is usually 1 or 2 weeks after Catholic/Protestant Easter. The day has taken on greater significance in Russia since the collapse of Soviet atheism. The International Festival of Ghosts and Phantoms materializes in Bojnice, Slovakia, at the end of April. On National Resistance Day Slovenia stops to remember the movement that stood up to occupying forces during World War II.


    Labor Day. May 1 is a workers' holiday throughout Eastern Europe.

    National Days. Poland's Constitution Day is May 3; Bulgaria has Bulgarian Army Day on May 6; the Czech Republic and Slovakia celebrate Liberation Day on May 8; Hungary commemorates Emancipation Day on May 24; and Croatia celebrates Statehood Day on May 30.


    Pentecost Sunday. Another movable church feast, Pentecost is celebrated 40 days after Easter throughout Eastern Europe. Pentecost, aka Whit Monday, is also a civic holiday.

    Corpus Christi Day. This Catholic holy day also merits some civic closures in Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. It usually falls in June but can be in late May when Easter falls early in the season.

    Summer Festivals. June is the traditional start of the summer festival season in Eastern Europe, which kicks off with dance festivals in Zagreb, Croatia (June 1) and Prague, Czech Republic (June 2).

    National Days. Croatia stops everything for Antifascist Struggle Day on June 22, and closes down again 3 days later on June 25 for Statehood Day, a date it shares with Slovenia's National Day holiday. In late June or early July St. Petersburg hosts White Nights, a series of concerts, film festivals, all-night boat tours, and other events.

    July & August

    These 2 months equate with Eastern Europe's high tourism season and the summer festival season all over the region. Choose from Dubrovnik's (Croatia) Summer Festival, a 50-year-old theater and music marathon that goes from the second week of July through the third week of August to Formula I racing in Budapest (Hungary) at the beginning of August. The Maiden Festival in Romania is a vestige of Targu de Fete, a day that guys picked out their brides. Today it is more of a folk festival. Look for single-day or weekend celebrations in specific towns in every country and you can eat, drink, sing, and dance your way across Eastern Europe for 2 months. Split's Summer Festival showcases open-air opera, theater, and dance performances and Porec is the venue for a series of jazz concerts. August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption, which is a holy day for the world's Catholics, including Eastern Europe's Catholic countries (Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia). See specific country chapters for detailed festival information.


    The festival season winds down and kids in Eastern Europe go back to school in September. You still can take in a concert or two at the Prague (Czech Republic) Autumn Music Festival from mid-September to October or watch a Marco Polo naval battle reenactment off Korcula (Croatia) in early September. The Apollonia Festival of the Arts takes place in Bulgaria in September and it is followed by the Golden Rose International Film Festival at the end of the month.


    Lots of civic commemorations across Eastern Europe mean plenty of days off work and store closures in October. Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia each close down for a day (Oct 8, 23, 28, and 31 respectively) to celebrate political milestones. The harvest season goes into full swing, too, with village celebrations in progress across the region. Warsaw hosts a Jazz Jamboree this month. It is purported to be the oldest jazz festival in Europe.


    All Saints' Day (Nov 1) is another holy day for Catholics and a day to close up shop in Eastern Europe's Catholic countries (Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia). Polish people place lighted candles on the graves of the dear departed on this day. November 11 is St. Martin's Day and the first day of the wine season in grape-growing regions (Croatia, Slovenia) and a day to eat, drink, and be merry.


    Christmas fairs abound in the Czech Republic in the days leading up to Christmas. Polish children delight on St. Nicholas Day (Dec 6) because they receive gifts. Except for Russia, Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day (Dec 25-26) are celebrated throughout Eastern Europe as both religious and civic holidays, as is New Year's Eve, aka St. Sylvester's Day, on December 31.
    Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:15 am
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    Hello, there has been some changes in Croatian Bank holidays. May 30th is not any more Statehood day, it is now The Parliament Day (Dan Hrvatskog Sabora) and it is not Bank holiday.
    June 25th is now Statehood day and it is Bank holiday. August 5th is now The Victory Day (Dan Pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti), and it is Bank Holiday. Octobar 8th is The Independace Day (Dan neovisnosti) and it is Bank holiday.
    Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:55 pm Groupie
    An FYI.....Christianity is not the only religion in Eastern Europe.
    Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:08 pm
    Forum Host
    Feb. 16 in Independence Day in Lithuania. March 4 is the feast day of St. Casimir, patron saint of Lithuania. There are more days that are significant but these are the two biggest, I'd say.
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