Thursday, March 25, 2010

Joint Grunwald/Zalgiris reenactment planned

On a Polish-news site, I found a newsbrief about the coming 600th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Grunwald, a.k.a. Zalgiris. Apparently, the heads of state of both Poland and Lithuania will attend.

The 600th anniversary of the victorious battle of Polish and Lithuanian forces against the Teutonic Order will be jointly celebrated by both countries’ presidents.

A relevant document has been signed in Warsaw by Lithuania’s deputy defense minister Vytautas Umbrasas and secretary of state at the Polish ministry of culture and national heritage Piotr Zuchowski. It covers cooperation in organizing the celebrations and their promotion.

The anniversary falls on July 15 and the main events shall be held at Malbork Castle, the former seat of the Teutonic knights, and on the fields of Grunwald where the battle of 1410 is to be reconstructed in historical costume by special groups of enthusiasts from Poland and Lithuania.

The official anniversary events will be attended by Polish head of state Lech Kaczynski and Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite.


Go to the original website to read the comments, if you wish.

You could also take this Grunwald-themed tour, though you won't be in Grunwald on Thursday, July 15. Hmmm.

Still counting down the days to Slavic University III in the Kingdom of Aethelmearc. I've been told that the schedule of activities will be posted next week.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Starting the colorful journey...

I know it's getting late, but I just wanted to post that I have started to make the natural dyes for this season's margučiai.

My male foodie friend and I have been saving up the outer skins from yellow onions since last summer. Following the directions from this website, I took about three handfuls of the dried skins and crumbled them into a bit more than a cup of water. I brought the mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for a while. Some of the water evaporated, so I added some more. Even so, once I strained the liquid into a clean glass jar, the level seems barely enough to cover an egg. Then again, the level will rise when I put an egg into the jar.

Now I'll add the vinegar and cap the jar, and I'll be ready to start dyeing ... at least with that color. I would also like to experiment with turmeric, spinach, and red cabbage, and maybe even grape juice and beets.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A housekeeping question

My previous post has an obvious spam comment attached to it. I just now enabled moderation for all comments, but how the heck do I delete this spam comment? There doesn't seem to be a button allowing me to do that.

Thanks!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy Lithuanian Independence Day -- AGAIN!

Twenty years ago today, Lithuania rose up and declared itself the first of the Soviet Socialist Republics independent of the USSR. At first it almost seemed like a quaint, quixotic, symbolic thing to do ... but no! The Lithuanians were really free, and as more countries joined them, the Soviet Union crumbled around them! (And of course, some countries had never recognized their incorporation into the USSR in the first place.)

To commemorate this anniversary, here 's a timeline of the events leading up to that momentous decision and a retrospective article from the Irish Times. Finally, here's the obligatory Wikipedia entry.

Remember, it took the Soviet Union almost 18 months from this date to recognize Lithuania's independence -- following bloodshed, a failed Soviet coup and the U.S. president's siding with the Lithuanians. By then, the USSR was about to fall apart.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Springtime

Slavic University is but a month away, and I'm looking forward to it! I'm not going to have a perfect kit, but I will try to spiff up a bit (and document my efforts here).

I also think I ought to make some margučiai and bring them to Slavic U. What am I talking about? Well, the singular is apparently margutis -- and margučiai are the same as pysanky -- in other words, decorated Easter eggs. Since the event is the weekend after Easter and the mid-Atlantic region will be bursting with new flowers and plant growth, what would be a better A&S display?

I've been saving yellow onion skins for a while now, and I have a gallon zip-bag filled with them. I look forward to boiling them and mixing in a spoonful of vinegar to create a natural dye. I may also experiment with the cooking water from red cabbage and green spinach leaves. These plant-based materials may not provide the intense color of modern commercial dyes, but I'm willing to try them nevertheless. If they all fail, I've got some dye tablets left over from last Easter!

The more common (and especially Ukrainian) technique is to use hot wax to draw the designs first, then color the eggs. I seem to recall, though, that last year I found some examples of Lithuanian eggs in which the artist dyed the eggs first, then scratched off the designs with a knife. I may experiment with both methods.

There's also the question of whether to draw the designs on raw eggs -- and then blow the contents out, leaving only a varnished shell to keep for the long term, or to decorate hard-boiled eggs -- and then have people peel and eat those artworks. Again, I may try both methods. I am thinking that the scratch-off method may leave the eggshell weak. Maybe I should try that on the hard-boiled potential lunch specials. :-)

So, without further ado, here are some links to eye candy!