Blintzes (“blini”) had a ritual significance for early Slavic peoples in pre-Christian times since they were a symbol of the sun, due to their round form, writes Kyle Keeton. They were traditionally prepared at the end of the winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun (Pancake week or Maslenitsa). This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox church and is carried on to the present day. Blintzes were once also served at wakes, to commemorate the recently deceased.
Traditional Russian blini are made with yeasted batter, which is left to rise and then diluted with cold or boiling (“zavarnye blini”) water or milk just before baking them in the traditional Russian oven. By Russian tradition the first blin is always destroyed while frying. Blintzes (“blinchiki” in Russian) are made from unyeasted batter (usually made of flour, milk and eggs) and are nearly identical to French crêpes.