11 March 2021

This week in Russia and some neighbouring countries the Maslenitsa celebrations begin - this is a Slavic traditional holiday that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The date of Maslenitsa changes every year depending on the date of the celebration of Easter. Traditional attributes of the celebration are the Maslenitsa dummy, sleigh rides, folk festivities; as well as special dishes: in Russia - pancakes and flat cakes, and among Belarusians and Ukrainians - dumplings and cheese cakes.

Maslenitsa tradition derives from ancient pagan rituals. In the pre-Christian time, the celebration of Maslenitsa was timed to coincide with the spring equinox, which, among a number of people using the solar calendar, is considered the beginning of the new year. The change of seasons has become overgrown with many signs and rituals. Maslenitsa was one of them - they celebrated the outgoing winter and hoped for an early warmth. Festivities were always accompanied by fire - burning bonfires, wheels and dummies were the main attributes of Maslenitsa and echoing of the cult of the sun that reigned in pre-Christian times.

After the adoption of Christianity, the Church consecrated this pagan holiday and filled it with new ideas. Maslenitsa week was the last stage of preparation for Lent. In the Christian tradition, during Maslenitsa, believers should come closer to forgiving all offenses, repentance, and reconciliation with their neighbours.

Nowadays, this is a fun holiday beloved by the people, which is usually celebrated noisily with family and friends.