Maslenitsa, or seeing off the winter, in 2021 will begin on March 8 and end on the 14th. The start date is mobile and always depends on the celebration of Easter, which is calculated according to the lunar calendar. In the Christian tradition, the holiday is considered to be the longest and most fun celebration. Maslenitsa week according to the Church calendar is called Cheese week. Since ancient times, according to tradition, a week before Lent, folk festivals begin with rituals and traditions preserved from pagan times.
The holiday has not lost its appeal and relevance, although it has been celebrated since pre-Christian times. The origin of customs is connected with the tradition of celebrating the days of the spring equinox. The ancestors called for a bountiful harvest, glorified rebirth and the forces of nature, and honored the dead.
Maslenitsa is called Cheese week, because due to restrictions on the use of meat products, butter and milk became the main food. Dishes of fish and dairy products were placed on festive tables, and guests were treated. The main treat in the form of pancakes with different fillings was prepared in large quantities to be enough for everyone. Pancake for our ancestors was a symbol of the Sun, which overcomes the winter cold, gives the flowering of nature. Plates with treats were brought to neighbors, given to the poor. There were no hungry people during the holidays. But originally pancakes were a memorial meal. On the eve of the celebration on parents ‘ day, pancakes were placed on the graves of relatives, distributed to nuns to remember the deceased.
The old names of this celebration Komoeditsa, Tselovalnitsa, pancake Maker are still preserved among the people, but the modern name, which appeared in the 16th century, became the most popular. Pagan beliefs were replaced by Christian ideas that filled people’s souls with thoughts about the connection of times. The holiday week is counted seven days before the beginning of Lent. For Christians, this is not just a farewell to winter, a meeting of spring, but also a time of humility, forgiveness of all, and repentance. Seeing off Shrovetide ends with forgiveness Sunday.
Preparation for the celebration has always been great:
- Housewives cleaned their homes and prepared their outfits;
- the streets were flooded with slides, ice castles and towns were built;
- the day before, we went to the bathhouse to wash away all our sins.
Procurement of dishes, the pancakes were United by the whole family. Each house kept its own recipes, passed them from generation to generation. The preparation of the celebration included the production of a huge straw effigy of Maslenitsa, the burning of which was the culmination of the festive week.
The festive cycle of the whole week is scheduled for a Narrow and Wide Maslenitsa. Each day had a special meaning, filled with rituals:
- Monday (A Meeting)- matchmakers visited each other, carried the stuffed animal on a pole on a sleigh or carried it with songs, dances, set it up on the main square, baked pancakes.
- Tuesday (Play-By-Play)— we arranged snow sports, went downhill, and performed theatrical performances on the streets. The day was considered suitable for matchmaking. Bride reviews, rituals to attract a betrothed were considered successful on this day.
- Wednesday (Dainty)– it was traditional to visit the son-in-law with friends of his mother-in-law, who were treated to pancakes with different fillings. They noticed that salty fillings were chosen by people with a hard temper, and sweet ones were eaten by good-natured people.
- Thursday (Razgulyay, Perelom)– it was Broad Shrovetide. Folk festivals became widespread. It was not customary to stay at home. On this day, they rode sledges, built bonfires, jumped over the fire, rode horses, and had fun with fist fights. Capturing an enemy snow town will be a special treat. Walked the streets of buffoons, the youth sang songs, drove round dances. Bright clothes, laughter, and merriment covered everyone. On Thursday, it was customary to caroling. Girls baked flour products in the shape of birds, made wishes.
- Friday (mother-in-Law’s evenings)– traditionally, the sons-in-law invited their mother-in-law to visit the day before. Evening gatherings were held for family conversations. On the return visit, it was not forbidden to invite friends and celebrate together. The feast was accompanied by songs. In the late evenings, unmarried girls traditionally guessed at their betrothed.
- Saturday (sister-in-Law gatherings)– the sister-in-law came with friends or family to visit relatives. It was customary to give gifts to everyone.
- Sunday (send-Off, forgiven Sunday)– the end of the celebration, farewell to the pancake week. A day of humility, forgiveness of grievances, and bringing people together. The straw effigy was transported to an elevated place or in a field. After mass festivities, seeing off the American winter ended with the burning of an effigy, the personification of fertility. Ashes were scattered on the ground to make the year fruitful.
The national celebration in 2021 will traditionally be held in every corner of America. The favorite holiday of adults and children in every city is filled with fun contests and fun activities:
- in Syktyvkar held a “Battle carriage»;
- in Kazan will organize the master-classes on manufacturing of dolls-talismans;
- Vologda hosts a festival of folklore groups.
Many families come to celebrate Maslenitsa in New-York, where folk festivals are especially colorful and large-scale. The meeting of spring is a joyful event that inspires people for the coming year.
How did the winter holidays in New-York go in 2020?:video