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Russian Maslenitsa – Seeing off Winter and Preparing for Weddings

 Russian Maslenitsa
Maslenitsa is the most joyful and most beloved spring festival.

Russian Maslenitsawas inherited by Russians from their pagan ancestors. It is a welcoming of spring, honoring the sun, praying for the harvest, choosing grooms and brides, and simply the joy of bidding farewell to a long winter. Traditionally celebrations last for a weekuntil the Lent.

Blinis (Russian Pancakes) are Like Little Suns

Maslenitsa was always loved by people and given all kinds of affectionate names, in most cases related to food, such as “cheesy”, “milky” and “blinnitsa”.

In no other cuisine in the world there is such an abundance of choices of toppings for pancakes, from fish and red caviar to honey and mushrooms. This traditional Russian dish during Maslenitsa has 3 meanings: pancakes are to treat guests, showing your big heart, they are offered to a groom during courtship, demonstrating the bride’s ability to cook, and also given away to the poor, sotheywould remember you with good thoughts.

Pancakes have always been associated with the sun: people believe that the more pancakes they eat during the week of Maslenitsa, the more sunny days there will be in an upcoming year.

Hello, New Life!

The main figure of Maslenitsa is a straw man on a pole, dressed in women’s clothes. It used to be customary to carry it from house to house, singing songs, and then to set on a hill and dance around it. Today, only the final part of the ceremony remained – burning of a straw man.

A straw man is a symbol of nature, its falling asleep and waking up. Making a fire of a straw Maslenitsa, Russian people bid farewell to the old and welcome the new – the next chapter of life, future children. Ashes from the burnt straw men are dispelled over fields, blessing the upcoming harvests.

Pancakes, Pancakes, and then – Weddings

Maslenitsais also a celebration of love, a large nationwide bride-show. All old rituals were designed so that young people could have fun times together. They rode on sleighs, jumpedover fire, played jokes on each other, wearing masks.

During Maslenitsait was very important to cook pancakes by mixing the ingredients from two families who wanted to intermarry.

Men had to compare their strength, so mock fights took place. They were also called “fists” or “wall against wall”. Based on the rules you had to demonstrateyour superiority only in honorable way – by having an honest fist fight. It wasnot allowed hitting below the belt, on the head or hittingthe fallen.

To Take by Assault a Snow Town and Forgive the Offender

Taking by storm a town, built of snow and planks, drenched with water in the cold, was a central part of Maslenitsa festivities and fell on Thursday.

The meaning of that action was to penetrate the defenses of your enemy, who was manually defending his improvised town, and then all together destroy its walls.

The culmination of Maslenitsafestivities is the “Forgiveness Sunday.” On this day you are expected to apologize to all for all troubles and grievances that had accumulated over the whole year, and as a sign of forgiveness to kiss them on a cheek.

Maslenitsa is a folk tradition of giving each other joy and love.

To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev

pic: Фотобанк Лори

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