Maslenitsa is a traditional Russian festival for welcoming spring and the start of the Orthodox Lent season.
Maslenitsa is also known as Butter Week (“maslo” is the Russian word for butter). Lots and lots of blini, thin Russian pancakes, are eaten during this week.
Drenched in butter and filled with a choice of different ingredients.
Try sweet with fruit jams and honey, or go savory with smoked salmon and caviar.
In addition to eating pancakes, there are specific traditions associated with each day of the week.
- Monday is for visiting friends and family, and welcoming guests (and eating blini, of course). “Lady Maslenitsa,” a straw doll to represent winter, is made and dressed in old women’s clothing. She is attached to a pole, paraded around, and placed on the snow hill for the festival.
- Tuesday is for winter activities (and more blini)! Sledding, skating or taking a winter walk.
- Sweet Day is Wednesday. You guessed it! More blini! Restaurants and cafes offer special menus with a wide variety of blini to try.
- The fourth day is Revelry Thursday – outdoor activities like sleigh rides, sledding, ice skating, and snowball fights are common. And more feasting (Lent is starting soon).
- Friday is traditionally a day for mothers and mothers-in-law. Visiting and … eating blini!
- On Saturday, there are more family gatherings, parades, street festivals, concerts, dancing, bazaars, games for kids, and …blini!
- Forgiveness Day on Sunday is the most important day of celebration. People ask for and give forgiveness. It is a day of unity and joy.
- The festival closes with the burning of “Lady Maslenitsa” in a bonfire. The cold weather of winter is to be taken away with the smoke.
Enjoy some of the sights and sounds of Maslenitsa: