Do Russians eat pancakes the whole week to celebrate the coming of spring? 

Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week, is, perhaps, one of the most interesting and unusual traditional holidays in Russia. Considered the day of the dead previously, but now connected with fun and food. An interesting and unusual combination of winter and spring traditions are mixed, to allegedly contribute to a good harvest. Today you cannot have the same type of events in Russian towns and cities, however, every region tries to revive some of these traditions. 

A week before Lent traditionally celebrated Maslenitsa. Here people devoted every day to special rituals. Let’s see what people did a long time ago to welcome spring. 

On Monday

The construction of snowy mountains, swings, and booths are completed. A scarecrow of Zima (Winter) which was built from improvised materials, was planted on a stake and carried along the streets. Skiing from the mountains was an old rite. The one who rolls down the mountain more than once would have higher flax yields. Interestingly, but today most of these events are impossible to hold because there is no snow in the southern regions in February and March. 

On Wednesday

People opened their houses to delicious food, baked pancakes, and brewed beer. Each housewife in Russia had a special recipe for making pancakes. Generation to generation has passed this down.

Sunday is also called “Forgiven.”

On this day, close people asked each other for forgiveness for all the insults and troubles. In the evening people visited cemeteries to “say goodbye” to the dead. A lot of Russians still respect this tradition. On the last day of Pancake Week, a solemn burning of a straw scarecrow took place. People also threw pancakes and the remains of refreshments into the big fire. 

Shrovetide ends on the first day of Lent, Clean Monday. It was considered the day of cleansing from sin. People try to clean the house and prepare for the period of Lent.

Do you want to know more about Russian traditions? Click here to read about other Russian traditions.

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Author: Polina Shevchenko

Polina is a volunteer at SPEAK. She is a journalist, blogger and language coach. She has lived in three countries and visited more than 25. Polina loves learning languages and is very surprised every time when she meets people who don’t.

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