February 14th, 2010 – by: Marinushka
Maslenitsa is a great example of how Slavic pagan rituals merged with Christian traditions and formed this unique Russian culture. Now Maslenitsa is time for eating ‘bliny’ (Russian pancakes) with caviar, jam, salmon, ‘smetana’ (cream) etc and having fun. ‘Bliny’ symbolize the sun, and Maslenitsa is a holiday to celebrate the end of winter, despite cold frosty weather is more typical for Maslenitsa then a real spring. On the last day of Maslenitsa they burn down a giant straw doll called Kostroma - it means winter is over but fun is over again - the next Monday after Maslenitsa the Great Lent starts.
Maslenitsa lasts for 7 days, and each day has its own activity - one day is for sleigh-riding, another one is sons-in-law to visit their mother-in-law and so on. The last day is called Forgiveness Sunday. On that day people ask each other to forgive them, and they normally hear back “God forgives”. The next day - Clean Monday - people are supposed to meet with cleaned souls and minds.
Despite its religious meaning, Maslenitsa is widely celebrated by non-Orthodox people and expats. The reason is clear and simple - ‘bliny’ are just irresistible!