Are you among those who hesitate about attending ethnic festivals and churches because you don’t know whether or not you’ll be welcome? Please tell us about it.
If you’ve been reading our blogs, you’ll find that some, but not all of these events are good for other Torontonians to visit. Of course, you can have a more satisfying time if you are friendly and outgoing yourself.
You can count the Maslenitsa, or Russian Blini Festival, last Sunday among those that make visitors feel comfortable. Make a note of it for next year if you’re willing to pay $40 or so. This price is a departure from my usual free or nearly free guidelines, but the splurging was worth it.
The festival was organized by the Russian-Canadian Cultural Aid Society. Most people there smiled at the two of us although we obviously didn’t look Russian. We shared a table with a friendly Russian family who came from Lithuania. It was easy to talk with them and they readily told us that the lovely song at the beginning was a grace. They talked about the singers and dancers performing on stage.
The announcements were all in Russian, but that didn’t matter. We had our own interpreters and we could tell what was going on.
A young volunteer waiter brought stacks of Blini pancakes to our table. (See Blog No. 66 ). Our new friends showed us how to separate the large, thin blini, and fill them with smoked salmon, caviar, spring onions, egg and/or herring. They told us to dip the resulting roll into sour cream. They didn’t laugh at my sloppy efforts and kept offering us the Portuguese wine that came with the meal. Dessert was more cream puffs and fruit than we could eat. It was a marvelous, memorable feast with affable company.
I am helping to organize a small group to visit the beautiful Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church nearby. It will be on a week-day. The church is in downtown Toronto south of the University of Toronto. We will be able to get someone to explain about the ikons and customs. Please let me know if you want to join us. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.