Maslenitsa

Maslenitsa is celebrated the last week before the onset of Lent, giving the last chance to bask in worldly delights.  Once Lent itself begins, a strictly kept fast excludes meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Furthermore, parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from the spiritual life are also prohibited.  In the eyes of the church Maslenitsa is not just a week of merrymaking, but a whole step-by-step procedure to prepare oneself for the Lenten Fast.

The name of the holiday, Maslenitsa (derived from maslo, which means butter or oil in Russian) owes its existence to the tradition of baking pancakes (or blini , in Russian). They are essential to the celebration of Maslenitsa.  On the one hand, hot, round, and golden, pancakes, as people believed, embody a little of the sun’s grace and might, helping to warm up the frozen earth. In old days pancakes were cooked from buckwheat flour, lending them a red color, making the significance even more evident.