Maslenitsa

Maslenitsa

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Maslenitsa

Maslenitsa ' onMouseout='HidePop("44305")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Russia">Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n religious and folk holiday
Public holidays in Russia
The following is the list of official public holidays recognized by the Government of Russia. On these days, government offices, embassies and some shops, are closed. If the date of observance falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be a day off in lieu of the holiday.-New Year...

. It is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent
Great Lent
Great Lent, or the Great Fast, is the most important fasting season in the church year in Eastern Christianity, which prepares Christians for the greatest feast of the church year, Pascha . In many ways Great Lent is similar to Lent in Western Christianity...

—that is, the seventh week before Pascha
Pascha
Pascha may refer to:*Easter, central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year*Paskha , an Easter dish served in several Slavic countries*Paska , an Easter bread served in Ukraine...

 (Easter). Maslenitsa corresponds to the Western Christian
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 Carnival
Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday
Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday, in the calendar of Western Christianity, is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter. It is a moveable fast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter...

. The Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date. In 2008, for example, Maslenitsa was celebrated from March 2 to March 8.

Maslenitsa has a dual ancestry: pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 and Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. In Slavic mythology
Slavic mythology
Slavic mythology is the mythological aspect of the polytheistic religion that was practised by the Slavs before Christianisation.The religion possesses many common traits with other religions descended from the Proto-Indo-European religion....

, 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. During Maslenitsa week, meat is already forbidden to Orthodox Christians
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, making it a myasopustnaya nedelya . It is the last week during which milk, cheese and other dairy products are permitted, leading to its other name of "Cheese-fare week" or Pancake week. During Lent, meat, fish, dairy products 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 partake of dairy products and those social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season.

Traditions


The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny (pancakes), popularly taken to symbolize the sun. Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition: butter, eggs and milk.

Maslenitsa also includes masquerade
Masquerade ball
A masquerade ball is an event which the participants attend in costume wearing a mask. - History :...

s, snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings and plenty of sleigh rides. In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its traditional activity: one day for sleigh-riding, another for the sons-in-law to visit their parents-in-law, another day for visiting the godparents, etc. The mascot of the celebration is usually a brightly dressed straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa, formerly known as Kostroma.

As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evening, Lady Maslenitsa is stripped of her finery and put to the flames of a bonfire
Bonfire
A bonfire is a controlled outdoor fire used for informal disposal of burnable waste material or as part of a celebration. Celebratory bonfires are typically designed to burn quickly and may be very large...

. Any remaining blintzes are also thrown on the fire and Lady Maslenitsa's ashes are buried in the snow (to "fertilize the crops").

Religiously, the beginning of Great Lent is traditionally tied to the beginning of Spring, an association found in the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 Triodion
Triodion
The Triodion , also called the Lenten Triodion , is the liturgical book used by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine rite during Great Lent, the three preparatory weeks leading up to it, and during Holy Week.Many canons in the Triodion contain only three odes or...

 (containing hymns for the Lenten season), going back to at least a century before the Baptism of Rus—thus having no connection with pagan Russian customs. The ancient hymns refer to the "Lenten Spring," a natural link because of the time of year during which Lent always occurs in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The church services during this week are very similar to those served during Great Lent itself, though they are shorter. This is also the first time the Prayer of Saint Ephrem
Prayer of Saint Ephrem
The Prayer of Righteous Ephrem , is a prayer attributed to Saint Ephrem the Syrian and used during the Great Lent by the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches that use the Byzantine rite...

 is said and the Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

 is forbidden on Wednesday and Friday (as it is on every weekday of Great Lent).

Sunday of Forgiveness


The last day of Cheesefare Week is called "Forgiveness Sunday", indicating the desire for God's forgiveness that lies at the heart of Great Lent. At Vespers
Vespers
Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours...

 on Sunday evening, all the people make a poklon (prostration) before one another and ask forgiveness, and thus Great Lent begins in the spirit of reconciliation and Christian love. Another name for Forgiveness Sunday is "Cheesefare Sunday," because for devout Orthodox Christians, it is the last day on which dairy products may be consumed until Pascha. Fish, wine and olive oil will also be forbidden on most days of Great Lent. The day following Cheesefare Sunday is called Clean Monday
Clean Monday
Clean Monday , also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic Great Lent...

, because everyone has confessed their sins, asked forgiveness, and begun Great Lent with a clean slate.

Modern Times



During Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 times, Maslenitsa, like all the other religious holidays, was officially not celebrated. However, it was widely observed in families without its religious significance, just as an opportunity to prepare pancakes with all sorts of fillings and coverings and to eat them with friends. After Perestroika
Perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

, the outdoor celebrations resumed, although they were seen by some as an artificial restoration of a dead tradition. Many Russians have returned to practising Christianity, however, so they are reviving the tradition.

Many countries with a significant number of Russian immigrants consider Maslenitsa a suitable occasion to celebrate Russian culture, although the celebrations are usually reduced to one day and may not coincide with the exact date of the religious celebrations.

See also

  • Fat Thursday
    Fat Thursday
    Fat Thursday is a traditional Polish, Greek and German feast marking the last Thursday before Lent and is associated with the celebration of Carnival...

     (in Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    )
  • Mardi Gras
    Mardi Gras
    The terms "Mardi Gras" , "Mardi Gras season", and "Carnival season", in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday...

     (in other countries)
  • Mărţişor
    Martisor
    Mărțișor is a traditional celebration of the beginning of spring, on March 1. It is a tradition in Romania, Moldova, and all territories inhabited by Romanians and Aromanians...

     (in Romania
    Romania
    Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

    )
  • Martenitsa
    Martenitsa
    Martenitsa is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and worn from March 1 until around the end of March . The name of the holiday is Baba Marta. "Baba" is the Bulgarian word for "grandmother" and Mart is the Bulgarian word for the month of March...

     (in Bulgaria
    Bulgaria
    Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

    )
  • Marzanna
    Marzanna
    Maržanna, Mara, Maržena, Morana, Moréna, Mora, Marmora or Morena is a Slavic goddess associated with death, winter and nightmares. Some sources equate her with the Latvian goddess Māra, who takes a person's body after their death...

     (in Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    )
  • Patras Carnival
    Patras Carnival
    The Patras Carnival, Patrino karnavali is the largest event of its kind in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe. It has more than 160 years of history. The events begin on 17 January and last up to Clean Monday. The carnival of Patras is not a single event but a variety of events that includes...

     (in Greece
    Greece
    Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

    )
  • Shrove Tuesday
    Shrove Tuesday
    Shrove Tuesday is a term used in English-speaking countries, especially in Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Germany, and parts of the United States for the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of fasting and prayer called Lent.The...

     or "Pancake Day" (in the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     and Ireland
    Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

    )
  • The Rite of Spring
    The Rite of Spring
    The Rite of Spring, original French title Le sacre du printemps , is a ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky; choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky; and concept, set design and costumes by Nicholas Roerich...


External links