Maslenitsa in Moscow!


Maslenitsa is an ancient pagan holiday that takes place the week before Orthodox Lent begins. Like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Maslenitsa is an opportunity to celebrate and eat good food before you begin a period of doing without. It also reminds me a little bit of Halloween because a lot of people will dress up like pagan spirits in creepy/crazy looking costumes. They welcome spring by burning an effigy as a sacrifice and eating Russian blini (crepe-like pancakes) shaped like the sun to welcome the sun to come quickly and bring spring. 

What tradition did I learn about?:

It's a week-long celebration, beginning on Monday and culminating on Sunday, with the burning of an effigy and celebrations all around Moscow in parks and in Red Square. Maslenitsa celebrations are all about emphasizing traditional Russian culture. In Red Square, people will put up booths for children and tourists to learn about different aspects of Russian folk culture. We made a clay toy and learned how to play traditional Russian instruments. We also ate shashlik and blini and spent time in the park before watching the effigy burn. 

Why does the community have this tradition?:

This event happens to welcome spring and encourage spring to come. It is a celebration of the end of the long cold winter, looking forward to new growth and the hope of spring.