For Russians in centuries past, the transition from summer into fall was a time for bringing in the cabbage harvest. Depending on where a village was, the cutting of the cabbage would begin on the holiday of Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross (September 14) or on the day in memory of St. Sergius of Radonezh (September 25).
It was said: “On Exhaltation Day, cabbage is the first among ladies.” (На Воздвиженье первая барыня – капуста.) And cabbage (first mentioned in the Chronicle of 1073) truly was the village matriarch. Often there was so much to process and preserve that there was a rush to get it done before the first frost, which was normally associated with Pokrov (October 1).*
For many peasants, cabbage was the only green vegetable they got three seasons of the year, and it supplied their diet with important vitamins (C and K, as well as B-5, B-6 and B-1) and minerals (potassium, iron, magnesium). Cabbage in one of its many forms (fried, braised, boiled, preserved) was always on the table. Which is why, to this day, Russia has the world’s highest per capita cabbage consumption (20 kilos per person per year).
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