Friday, February 27, 2009
Maslenitsa: Hello Spring!
Although I don't see any sign that Spring is here (temperature is still minus Celsius!), this week is Maslenitsa or Pancake Week, a Russian tradition celebrating the ending of winter and the coming of spring. In Sean's class, they ate pancakes or Bliny (which symbolise the sun), made masks and were allowed to have a snowball fight outside.
Maslenitsa has pagan and Christian origin; from Wikipedia:
"The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny (Russian pancakes), popularly taken to symbolize the sun. Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition: butter, eggs, and milk.
Maslenitsa also includes masquerades, snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings and plenty of sleigh rides. 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. The mascot of the celebration is usually a brightly dressed straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa, formerly known as Kostroma.
As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evening, Lady Maslenitsa is stripped of her finery and put to the flames of a bonfire. Any remaining blintzes are also thrown on the fire, and Lady Maslenitsa's ashes are buried in the snow (to "fertilize the crops")."
In school this afternoon, they burnt Lady Maslenitsa, to the delight of the kids there.
Spring, you've got your sacrifice, you'd better arrive tomorrow!