Maslenitsa has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun festival, celebrating the imminent end of the winter. On the Christian side, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent.(For instance, this year it lasted from February 28th to March 6th.) It is the last week during which milk, cheese and other dairy products are permitted, leading to its other name of &quot;Cheese-fare week&quot; or &quot;Butter week&quot;. During Lent, meat, fish, milk and eggs are forbidden. Furthermore, Lent also excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from the spiritual life. Thus, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to enjoy such products as butter and those social activities that are not appropriate during the Lenten season.
The traditional and most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny (Russian pancakes), symbolizing the sun. Round and golden, they are eaten with jam, honey, butter, sour cream or caviar.
There are many traditions connected with this holiday. Among them are fist fighting, capture of the snow fort and…
… and the so-called “stenka-na-stenku” battles, in which 2 lines stand opposite each other, then these 2 teams rush towards each other and then clash and start fighting.
There are also more peaceful activities. One of them is Khorovod, which is a combination of a circle dance and chorus singing. The mascot of the celebration is Lady Maslenitsa. It is a dummy made of straw, brightly dressed, that symbolizes the end of the winter. Traditionally, at the culmination of celebration Lady Maslenitsa is put on the fire with all the remaining pancakes. The ashes then is taken and buried in the snow, so that the soil would be fertile.
The last day of Cheesefare Week is called &quot;Forgiveness Sunday&quot;. On Sunday people ask each other for forgiveness, and thus Great Lent begins in the spirit of reconciliation and love.
Maslenitsa <ul><li>Perhaps the most cheerful holiday in Russia is Maslenitsa (Shrovetide). This holiday is considered to come from pre-Christian times, when the Slavs were still pagans. </li></ul>
In the old days Maslenitsa was for remembrance of the dead. So the burning of the figure of Maslenitsa means her funeral, and blini (pancakes) – coliphia.
However, the sad holiday was turned into jolly Maslenitsa with blini - round, yellow and hot as the sun, sledding and horse sleigh riding, fistfights and mother-in-law chatting
The rituals of Maslenitsa are very unusual and interesting because they combine the end of the winter holiday rituals and the opening of new spring festivals and ceremonies, which were to promote a rich harvest.