Maslenitsa: Eastern Slavic Folk HolidayMaslenitsa, also known as Butter Week, Crepe week, or Cheesefare Week is celebrated during the last week before Lent—the eighth week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter). Although the Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday, Maslenitsa corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival. This year it is held mid-February.
With origins in both pagan and Christian traditions it is – in Slavic mythology - a celebration of the imminent end of the winter.
During this week in Christianity meat is already forbidden to Orthodox Christians. Only milk, cheese and other dairy products are permitted, hence the name “Cheese-fare week".
As in Western Christianity parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from the spiritual life are prohibited during Lent. So Maslenitsa is a last chance to partake of dairy products and those social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season.
The popular crepes and pancakes served at this time are made from butter, eggs and milk.
Community activities include snowball fights and sledding. 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.
Want to try your hand at making the popular Blini (pancakes)?
Here are some recipes:
Garden leafs and smoked Salmon