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Maslenitsa is an Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday, celebrated during the last week before Great Lent, that is, the eighth week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha. Maslenitsa corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday, the Orthodox date of Easter can differ from the Western Christian date. According to archeological evidence from 2nd century A. D. Maslenitsa may be the oldest surviving Slavic holiday. Maslenitsa has its origins in the pagan tradition. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun-festival, personified by the ancient god Volos, a celebration of the imminent end of the winter. In the Christian tradition, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent. During the week of Maslenitsa, meat is forbidden to Orthodox Christians, it is the last week during which eggs, milk and other dairy products are permitted, leading to its name of "Cheese-fare week" or "Crepe week"; the most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny - thin pancakes or crepes, made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition that week: butter and milk.

Since Lent excludes parties, secular music and other distractions from spiritual life, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to take part in social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful and introspective Lenten season. In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its traditional activity. Monday may be the welcoming of “Lady Maslenitsa”; the community builds the Maslenitsa effigy out of straw, decorated with pieces of rags, fixed to a pole known as Kostroma. It is paraded around and the first pancakes may be made and offered to the poor. On Tuesday, young men might search for a fiancée to marry after Lent. On Wednesday sons-in-law may visit their mother-in-law who has prepared pancakes and invited other guests for a party. Thursday may be devoted to outdoor activities. People may take off work and spend the day sledding, ice skating, snowball fights and with sleigh rides. On Friday sons-in-law may invite their mothers-in-law for dinner. Saturday may be a gathering of a young wife with her sisters-in-law to work on a good relationship.

The last day of Cheesefare Week is called "Forgiveness Sunday". Relatives and friends might offer them small presents; as the culmination of the celebration people gather to "strip Lady Maslenitsa of her finery" and burn her in a bonfire. Left-over pancakes may be thrown into the fire and Lady Maslenitsa's ashes are buried in the snow to "fertilize the crops". At Vespers on Sunday evening, people may ask forgiveness. Another name for Forgiveness Sunday is "Cheesefare Sunday", because for devout Orthodox Christians it is the last day on which dairy products may be consumed until Easter. Fish and olive oil will be forbidden on most days of Great Lent; the day following Cheesefare Sunday is called Clean Monday, because people have confessed their sins, asked forgiveness, begun Great Lent with a clean slate. During Soviet times, like other religious holidays, was not celebrated officially. However, it was observed in families without its religious significance, as an opportunity to prepare crepes with all sorts of fillings and coverings and to eat and share them with friends.

After the start of perestroika, the outdoor celebrations resumed, although they were seen by some as an artificial restoration of a dead tradition. As many Russians have returned to practicing Christianity, the tradition is still being revived. With increasing secularization many Russians do not abstain from meat and Maslenitsa celebrations can be accompanied by shashlik vendors. "meat still does not play a major role in the festivities". Many countries with a significant number of Russian immigrants consider Maslenitsa a suitable occasion to celebrate Russian culture, although the celebrations are reduced to one day and may not coincide with the date of the religious celebrations. On 20 March 2017 the British tabloid newspaper Daily Mirror painted the Maslenitsa as a Hooligan training ground. One of the centuries-old tradition in this folk festival is “wall-to-wall”, sparring between men dressed in traditional folk clothes; this tradition was wrongly represented by the Mirror in the pictures and text, labelled as violent acts and living in fear without giving context or any information about this Russian traditional festival at all.

The Mirror article was titled “Russia's Ultra yobs infiltrated amid warnings England fans could be KILLED at World Cup.”, received negative receptions from Russian media being described as fake news. Candlemas Slavic carnival Fašiangy Rio Carnival Carnaval Fat Thursday Mardi Gras Mărţişor Marzanna Meteņi Patras Carnival Tsiknopempti Shrove Tuesday or "Pancake Day" Petrushka Užgavėnės Farsang Lives of the Saints The Orthodox Church in America, undated. Marks, Gil. "Encyclopedia of Jewish Food". Wiley. Pp. 56–58. Retrieved April 18, 2012. ISBN 9780470391303

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Istanbul

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Istanbul is an immediate Patriarchal Exarchate of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Istanbul. It reports directly to the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch. Since 1946, Melkite Parish in Istanbul was administrated by priest Maximos Mardelli, appointed Patriarchal Vicar in Istanbul, as representative of Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Sayegh of Antioch. Exarch Maximos was elevated to the honour of Archimandrite in 1953 for his successful church administration. During Anti-Greek riots in 1955, the Melkite Church building in Istanbul was destroyed; because Archimandrite Maximos was not a Turkish citizen, he had to leave Istanbul and went to the United States. Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Turkey Melkite Greek Catholic Church: Patriarchal Exarchate of Istanbul


BirGün is an Istanbul-based Turkish left-wing daily. The paper was founded in 2004 by a group of Turkish intellectuals; the most important point of the newspaper is that it is not owned by any parent company or conglomerate. Since its foundation, the newspaper had to face serious pressures from publishing trusts to affiliated with Doğan Media Group that owns the vast majority of the market. Whereas most of the newspapers in Turkey pay paper and publishing cost as installments, BirGün had to pay in cash. In order to afford the costs, the newspaper first launched a subscription campaign raised its price to 0.75 TL. The price was 1 TL in 2012 and 1,5 TL in Summer 2015 while costs 40 kuruş on universities in Turkey. Most of the BirGün columnists are members or sympathizers of the socialist Freedom and Solidarity Party, a member of Party of the European Left and one of the founders of European Anti-Capitalist Left. Korkut Boratav Şeyhmus Diken Hrant Dink Süreyya Evren Tarık Günersel Zeynep Kuray Sabri Kuşkonmaz Oğuzhan Müftüoğlu Sırrı Süreyya Önder Harun Tekin Ece Temelkuran Official website BirGün Columnists

Nicola Martinucci

Nicola Martinucci is an Italian opera singer noted for his performances in the spinto tenor of roles Calaf in Turandot, Radamès in Aida, the title role in Andrea Chénier. Martinucci was born in Italy, he did not begin studying singing until his 20s. With the encouragement of Mario Del Monaco he studied in Milan with Marcello Del Monaco and with Sara Sforni, he made his debut in 1966 at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan as Manrico in Il Trovatore. In 1966 he had won the Viotti International Music Competition which led to further debuts in Italian opera houses, he appeared La Scala from 1983 where he reprised the role of Manrico as well as singing Calaf, Radamès, Luigi in Il tabarro and Oronte in I Lombardi. Outside his native Italy, Martinucci made his debut at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in 1976 as Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut and appeared there again in 1977 as Calaf, in 1978 in the title role of Don Carlo, in 1979 as Rodolfo in La bohème, he made his debut at London's Royal Opera House in 1985 as Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West.

His Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1988. He went on to appear there until 1995 as Radamès, Dick Johnson, Andrea Chénier, Manrico, his last performance at the Met was as Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana. In his years, Martinucci has taught masterclasses in singing and served on the juries of several singing competitions, his daughter Leyla is an opera singer. Several of Martinucci's performances have been released on video, including Aida and Turandot from the Arena di Verona. Official website Nicola Martinucci on IMDb

Song Yanfei

Song Yan-fei known as Cecilia Boey, is an Australian-born Chinese actress and dancer. Song gained fame after joining Grade One Freshman and her roles in I'm Sorry It's not You, Mr. Right and Walk Into Your Memory. Song was born on 22 October 1995 in Australia, moved to Shanghai with her family when she was four years old, she attended Shanghai Theatre Academy. Song was discovered by a Korean talent scout when she was 15 and trained under JYP Entertainment from 2011 to 2014, she was supposed to debut with a girl group called 6MIX, but Song suffered a serious knee injury and decided to leave the entertainment company. She went back to China to pursue a career in acting. Song returned to China and joined the cast of Grade One Freshman in 2015. Song made her large screen debut in The New Year's Eve of Old Lee playing the role as Lily, she was cast in the television series Topple Your Ex-Girlfriend, I'm Sorry It's not You. She had her first lead role Mr. Right and a cameo in Detective Chinatown 2, her rising popularity led her to several main roles, iQiyi's Hero Dog 3, Tencent Video's Walk Into Your Memory and Ten Years Late in 2019.

She was cast in the LeTV romance drama Braveness of the Ming and Jade Lovers, both set to air in 2020. Song Yanfei on Sina Weibo Song Yanfei on IMDb

Pharnabazus II

Pharnabazus II was a Persian soldier and statesman, Satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia. He was the son of Pharnaces II of Phrygia and grandson of Pharnabazus I, great-grandson of Artabazus I, he and his male ancestors, forming the Pharnacid dynasty, had governed the satrapy of Hellespontine Phrygia from its headquarters at Dascylium since 478 BC. He married Apama, daughter of Artaxerxes II of Persia, their son Artabazus was a satrap of Phrygia, his grand-daughter Barsine married Alexander the Great. According to research by Theodor Nöldeke, he was descended from Otanes, one of the associates of Darius in the murder of Smerdis. Athens was the dominant power in the Aegean in the 5th century BC, following the repulse of the Achaemenids in the Second Persian invasion of Greece. Athens, powered by the alliance formed under the Delian League, has been called the Athenian Empire at that time, formed the largest threat to the Achaemenid possessions in Asia Minor. Pharnabazus II is first recorded as satrap of this province in 413 BC, when he received orders from Darius II of Persia to send in the outstanding tribute of the Greek cities on the Ionian coast, tribute he had a hard time to obtain due to Athenian interference.

Thucydides described this situation, faced by both satraps Pharnabazes and Tissaphernes: The king had called upon him for the tribute from his government, for which he was in arrears, being unable to raise it from the Hellenic towns by reason of the Athenians. He, like Tissaphernes of Caria, began a war with Athens; the conduct of the war was much hindered by the rivalry between the two satraps, of whom Pharnabazus was by far the more energetic and upright. Pharnabazus fought with the Spartans against the Athenians during the Peloponnesian war in one instance, coming to the rescue of the retreating Spartan forces, riding his horse into the sea to fend off the Athenians while encouraging his regiment. In 404 BC, Pharnabazus may have been responsible for the assassination of the Athenian general Alcibiades, who had taken refuge in the Achaemenid Empire; the assassination was at the instigation of the Spartans, Lysander. As Alcibiades was about to set out for the Persian court, his residence was surrounded and set on fire.

Seeing no chance of escape he rushed out on his assassins, dagger in hand, was killed by a shower of arrows. After their victory in the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans became the dominant power in the Aegean, creating a new threat for the Achaemenid Empire; the Spartans antagonized the Achaemenid king Artaxerxes II by militarily supporting the rival bid of his brother Cyrus the Younger, their ally during the Peloponnesian war, leading to the campaign of the Ten Thousand deep into Achaemenid territory in 401-399 BC. Cyrus the Younger failed, but the relationship between Sparta and the Achaemenid Empire remained adversarial. Pharnabazus was involved in helping the Bithynians against the plundering raids of the Greek Ten Thousand who were returning from their failed campaign in the center of the Achaemenid Empire, he was trying to stop them from entering Hellespontine Phrygia. His cavalry is said to have killed about 500 Greek mercenaries on that occasion, mounted several raids on the Greek mercenaries.

Pharnabazus arranged with Spartan Admiral Anaxibius for the rest of the Greek mercenaries to be shipped out of the Asian continent to Byzantium. Hellespontine Phrygia was attacked and ravaged by the Spartan king Agesilaos in 396-395 BCE, who laid waste to the area around Daskyleion, the capital of Hellenistic Phrygia. Pharnabazus had several military encounters against the invading Spartans on this occasion. Pharnabazus met in person with Agesilaos, Agesilaos agreed to remove himself from Hellespontine Phrygia proper and retreated to the plain of Thebe in the Troad. In 394, while encamped on the plain of Thebe, Agesilaus was still planning a campaign in the interior of Asia Minor, or an attack on Artaxerxes II himself, when he was recalled to Greece to fight in the Corinthian War between Sparta and the combined forces of Athens, Corinth and several minor states; the outbreak of the conflict in Greece had been encouraged by Persian payments to Sparta's Greek rivals, had for effect to remove the Spartan threat in Asia Minor.

Pharnabazus sent Timocrates of Rhodes as an envoy to Greece, tens of thousands of Darics, the main currency in Achaemenid coinage, were used to bribe the Greek states to start a war against Sparta. According to Plutarch, Agesilaus said upon leaving Asia Minor "I have been driven out by 10,000 Persian archers", a reference to "Archers" the Greek nickname for the Darics from their obverse design, because that much money had been paid to politicians in Athens and Thebes in order to start a war against Sparta. Pharnabazes went on to aid the Athenians against the Spartans in the Corinthian War. During this period, Pharnabazus is notable for his command of the Achaemenid fleet at the Battle of Cnidus in which the Persians, allied with the former Athenian admiral and commissioned into Persian service, annihilated the Spartan fleet, ending Sparta's brief status as the dominant Greek naval power. Pharnabazus followed up his victory at Cnidus by capturing several Spartan-allied cities in Ionia, instigating pro-Athenian and pro-Democracy movements.

Abydus and Sestus were the only cities to refuse to expel the Lacedaemonians despite threats from Pharnabazus to make war on them. He