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[Russian festival] Maslenitsa Pancake festival

If Russia is on your destination list, thinking about when is the best time to visit Russia? I will recommend you to come during the Maslenitsa festival (Ма́сленица). Why? You can say that this is the happiest time of the year because one of the reasons this week is celebrated is that it marks the last week of winter. Imagine being in Russia’s freezing winter for months, I believe you will be more than glad to finally embrace spring and say bye to the cold. Another reason why I personally recommend is because this might be the only time that you could find more than 85% of the restaurants are vegetarian friendly!

Before digging into the Maslenitsa festival, read also:
[Moscow itinerary] Saint Basil's Cathedral-why you MUST visit
[Moscow itinerary] Art play -Art cluster in Moscow
[About Russians] Why don't Russians smile
[Russian food culture] Varenye and Russian Honey
[What to buy]Russian organic supermarket-Vkusvill

📌It’s important for you to know that since Maslenitsa is a revived festival after being suppressed for years by the communists, how the Maslenitsa festival is celebrated today might be different from how it was celebrated originally.

 

When is the Maslenitsa festival?

Starting from Monday, 8 weeks before the orthodox easter.
Maslenitsa 2021: 8th of March till 15th of March

📌Easter in Russian orthodox is different from the easter celebrated in most western countries because the orthodox church follows the Julian Calendar.  And for the same reason, Christmas in Russia is celebrated on the 7th of January instead of the 25th.

 

Why is Maslenitsa festival celebrated?

  • The last week of Winter (that is one of the reasons, but keep in mind that during this time in Russia it could still be coldddddd as hell🥶)
  • This week is the week before the great lent-the most important fasting in the Orthodox church. So…it’s a good reason to celebrate all week long before the fasting, no?

 


Maslenitsa festival food-Blini (блины)

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If you are talking about Maslenitsa, it is impossible not to mention blini. Blini is the heart and soul of the festival. You can tell by the fact that this week is also called Pancake week, butter week…etc. And what is Blini exactly? I would say it is “Russian crepe”, as you can tell from the above picture.
Blini is a traditional Russian food which could be consumed throughout the whole year but during the Maslenitsa there seems to be a concept that: You should eat as much blini as possible!!!

 

Why eat Blini during the Maslenitsa Pancake week?

There are 2 sayings:

  1. Blini is round and yellow which looks like the sun. So if you eat them, it seems like you are consuming the energy and heat of the sun.
  2. Those who follow orthodox fasting will not be able to eat meat already this week. But dairy products like milk, cheese, eggs are still acceptable this week. So what do you get- Blini!

 

How are blinis traditionally served?

blini russian food

Sour cream, of course, caviar, berries, or Russian traditional jamVarenye(варенье).

 


Click here to see the Moscow Maslenitsa festival

Every day of Maslenitsa has its different meaning

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Monday – Welcoming

On Monday people will build a figure out of straw and put old woman’s cloth on it. The чучело(chuchelo) which symbolizes the winter.

Tuesday 

For the youngsters to have fun outdoor.

Wednesday -the Sweet Tooth Day

Wednesday is the day for consuming sweets and blinis😋 Mothers-in-law may invite their sons-in-law to have a seat.

Thursday

Thursday is for physical activities such as fistfights. (another way to burn the calory indulged the day before I guess?)

Friday

Day for visiting relatives and for the sons-in-law to return the favor

Saturday

Sister-in-law’s Gathering day.

Sunday –Прощёное Воскресенье (Forgiveness day)

On Sunday Russians will burn down the чучело(chuchelo) they built on Monday which means: bye~winter. (watch the video here)
Another important thing for the orthodox is to ask for forgiveness on this day. No matter you felt like you did something wrong or not, sometimes in life, there might be moments that you accidentally made others feel uncomfortable or so. Ask for forgiveness!

 

📌As I said, many traditions might not be the same as it originally was. What I really saw was that they really built the straw figure and burnt it on Sunday, and my boyfriend was the one who told me about forgiveness on Sunday. As for the other days, how they were supposed to celebrate, I asked my Russian boyfriend if his family followed that tradition how each day should be spent. He told me that Maslenitsa originated from the peasants and every region celebrates it differently, so in Moscow…his family didn’t celebrate it exactly that way.
The above how every day is celebrated refer to Culture trip (since the author has a very Russian name😅) and Advantour.

 

If you have followed along until here, congratulations! You have been through the happiest week in Russia! Now are you ready for the 7 weeks of fasting🤭?


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