Russian Holiday week - Maslenitsa!

Cheerful and colorful holiday Maslenitsa is considered to come 11 centuries ago from pre-Christian times, when the Slavs were still pagans.

Russian Holiday week - Maslenitsa! Maslenitsa was a sun-festival -- the sun is shining longer and warmer each day! And then it became a fun important tradition to see off winter and welcome spring, enjoy the awakening of nature and beginning of new annual cycle of life!

During these holidays the most popular food in Russia is symbolic of the Sun - round pancakes, topped with butter, sour cream, honey, caviar! The Russian word for butter is “maslo” hence the name Maslenitsa. 

Blini are made every day and each mistress of the house has her own particular blini recipe. Every day of Maslenitsa was devoted to special rituals.

  • Maslenitsa always begins on Monday. On that day people made the straw-stuffed figure of Winter, dressed it in old women’s clothing and sing carried it on sleigh around the village.
  • Tuesday was called “zaigrysh” (game day). From that day on the whole village started all sorts of activities: sleigh riding, folk festivals, skomorokh (traveling actors) and puppet shows. Pancake Week in 18th century Moscow was hard to imagine without bear shows!!!
  • Wednesday - gourmand – opened feasts in houses with blini and other dishes. Each family used to wait for the in-laws and made beer and “zbiten” (a hot drink made of water, honey and spices).
  • On Thursday – revelry – came the climax of games and fun. 
  • If on Wednesday sons-in-law were treated with pancakes in their mothers-in-law homes, on Friday it was their turn to arrange evenings with blini.
  • Saturday was devoted to the visits of young wives by relatives paid.
  •  On the last day of Maslenitsa comes the most interesting event – saying goodbye to Maslenitsa - a solemn burning of the stuffed figure of winter. 

With the adoption of the Christian religion this holyday became  supplemented with a new meaning – preparation for purification and for a long period of abstinence! Maslenitsa is celebrated during the week preceding the Lent. On the last festive day before Lent  people asked each other for forgiveness for all grievances and troubles; Sunday was named “forgiveness”.

NOTE:This whole week before Lent is called meat-postnoy In Orthodox religion, because meat is already forbidden, but fun, guests, any dairy food, and intoxicating drink is still permitted.

Lent in the Christian religion is the observance within 50 days of spiritual purity and abstinence from dairy and meat, from strong drinks, entertainment and physical pleasures. 

There are special concerts for visitors to allow them to feel this old original festival deeply in many Russian cities. Young people undertake «poteshny» fist fighting for fun. Snow Citadels are erected and then the whole battles will arise. Daredevils try to climb up a high smooth pole to get prizes fixed to the wheel on the pole top. These are the folk songs and ditties, in the parks,where you can see folk dances, various contests and scenes from Russian fairy tales and ancient traditions, and, of course, you need to try Russian pancakes! 

Russian Maslenitsa 2016  will be celebrated from March 7 through March 13! We invite you to participate in one of the most picturesque and ancient Russian holiday and come to visit us during Pancake week festivities!


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