Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Here in America, we celebrate winter coming to into spring simply by throwing all of our heavy clothes to the back of the dresser until the following year. In Russia, the celebration from winter to spring is a week long even known as Maslenitsa. It has both a pagan and christian history; in Pagan, Maslenitsa is celebrated on equinox; in christianity, it is celebrated the week before lent and is in preparation for spring.
In the christian religion, there is merrymaking happening all around, but one also must rid oneself of all meats, dairy, fish and eggs. This time is used to celebrate spiritual life and nothing more.

The Traditional Maslenitsa schedule looks on the line of this:

Monday-  The day of welcoming: The children assemble a Maslenitsa doll that is made of straw and women's clothing. They then place it on a pole and go dancing in khorovods. Afterwards, it is carried up to a snow hill and people then slide back down. "The rich start baking pancakes on this day, while the poor can only afford it doing it on Thursday or Friday. Traditionally, the first pancake goes to beggars to pay the tribute to the memory of deceased relatives. It was a common knowledge that if one doesn’t have as much fun as he or she could during Maslenitsa, they are doomed to grow old in loneliness and misery. Daughters-in-law are sent to their parents’ homes, with their husbands’ families joining them by the end of the day for a substantial holiday meal."

Tuesday- The day of fun and matchmaking: This day is full of fun and mischief. Children play in ice castles and eat tons of pancakes. Men kiss girls on the streets as if it means nothing and single guys rent sleighs to impress all of the beautiful girls. 

Wednesday- Visitation: Sons in law would pay to enjoy their mother in law's pancakes and the mother would then invite other guests over as well to enjoy the visitation. 

Thursday- Anger retreat: On this day, all work and merrymaking ceases and now violence begins. "On this day fist fights traditionally take place. Fist fighting is said to commemorate Russian military history, when soldiers supposedly fought each other in hand-to-hand combat. “Never hit a man when he is down”, states a Russian proverb, and its roots are found in this Maslenitsa."

Friday- Mother's day: Basically another day of family reunions and eating pancakes

Saturday- Sister day: "On this day young wives would invite their sisters-in-law for a feast to cajole them and win their favor. If husbands' sisters are single, young men are expected to attend the party. If they are married, she would invite all her married relatives along and the whole train would travel from one household to another.This ritual was of significance, since the relationship between the young wife and her sister-in-law initially was expected to be rather tense."

Sunday- Forgiveness day: On this day, presents are present to family members and/or sweethearts and forgiveness is asked for from those around them for all sins that had been committed in the year. This day is also when the doll made on Monday is burned and, once it was reduced to ashes, the young generation would walk over it, thus ending the festivities.

-Brooke Shepko

No comments: