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In 2023, the farewell to winter and the meeting of spring, or the festive Maslenitsa, falls on the week of February 20-26. In the folk calendar, the celebration is associated with a change in natural cycles. The ecclesiastical significance of the time period is in preparation for Great Lent on the eve of Easter.

When they celebrate

Eastern Slavs from pagan times celebrated Maslenitsa on the days of the vernal equinox, when the countdown of the new year began. In ancient times, they glorified Yarila, the god of the Sun, or Veles (Volos, Vlasiy), the "cattle god." Fertility and harvest rituals were followed on the eve of the farming season.

With the advent of Christianity, Maslenitsa, which used to be celebrated at the same time, was tied to the church order, a movable calendar, filled with new ideas. The dates of the celebration are updated annually, but you can calculate the period yourself.

Shrovetide precedes Lent, which lasts 48 days. In 2023, it starts on February 27th and ends on April 15th. Believers will meet Great Easter on April 16. The celebration of Maslenitsa from February 20 to 26 is a transitional stage from satisfying abundance to a time of restrictions, both physical and spiritual. In the Christian tradition, it is time for universal repentance, reconciliation with others. Maslenitsa ends with Forgiveness Sunday.

History and attributesholiday

The onset of Pancake week has long been associated with the arrival of bright and quite satisfying days. The week was called Cheese, Meat-fat, when dairy products and fish were eaten without restrictions, and meat was already banned. Variants of the names of the holiday reflect the popular perception of the event - “byedukha”, “crepe maker”, “gluttonous week”, “wide Shrovetide”.

The symbol of the holiday has long been considered a treat in the form of a circle - cakes or traditional pancakes resembling the sun. Once upon a time, flat round bread was brought as a gift to the gods. Housewives baked cakes according to their own recipes. Tasting a ritual meal means getting a little light and warmth. It is customary to treat pancakes throughout the Maslenitsa week, especially actively from Thursday to Sunday. The first pancakes were given to the poor, then treated to relatives. Pancakes were served with sour cream, honey, jam, butter.

Another well-known attribute of the holiday is a scarecrow made of straw, dressed in bright clothes. At first they had fun with him - they danced round dances, arranged games, and by the end of Shrovetide they burned it, which became the culmination of a mass celebration. The straw doll personified winter storms and death. The scarecrow was not always burned, sometimes it was torn to pieces, thrown into the hole. In the old days, ashes or the remaining straw were scattered over the fields to make the land more fertile. The destruction of the Shrovetide doll meant the clearing of the path for the coming of spring and the renewal of life.


We always ate and drank a lot during the holiday week. They brewed mash, beer, bought wine. On the tables were pies with various fillings, fish soup, hodgepodge, cottage cheesefritters, pancakes. Before the upcoming Lent, overeating was a tradition.

Folk festivities included mass sledding and sleigh rides. They visited relatives, friends, went to large fairs. Young people traveled around the neighborhood with songs.

Sledding from the ice slides gathered not only children, but also young boys and girls. The most daring went down on skates, in small groups, holding hands, like a "train". Young people put the girls on their knees, rolled together. For ice fun, they doused and froze benches that served as sledges.

Of particular importance were games with young couples, who were tested for strength - thrown from a sled into a snowdrift, buried in the snow. Joint slides down the hills ended with kisses for young people.

A kind of fighting fun was the capture of a snowy town, which was built in advance in the form of a fortress with gates made of logs, poured with water. They stormed on foot and on horseback. The besieged defended themselves desperately. After the capture of the fortress, everyone feasted together.

Shrovetide today

The tradition of celebrating Maslenitsa on a grand scale has survived to this day. Mass events are held annually in Moscow and other large cities, where they recall the customs of the past and arrange entertainment in the spirit of the times. Holiday programs include:

    • pancake fairs;
    • tug of war competition;
    • bag fights;
    • walking on stilts;
    • transformation workshops;
    • strongman contests;
    • sledding;
    • theatrical performances;
    • master classes for cooks, blacksmiths;
    • concerts of folk performers;
    • exhibitions of stuffed animals;
    • creating "live" paintings by famous artists.

    "Glutton" rows will invariably please with an abundance of pancakes for every taste, gingerbread, marshmallow, fragrant pastries. Every participant of folk festivals will be able to taste real fish soup, warm up with fragrant tea from a Russian samovar. Buffoons, pedlars create a special fair atmosphere with songs, dances, jokes.

    Ethnographic museums on holidays organize exhibitions of folk costumes, tools, household items of past centuries. Master classes are held for children on painting toys, making dolls, and teaching folk crafts.

    As before, the culmination of the programs is the burning of the effigy of Maslenitsa. Huge dolls, up to four meters high, enchantingly burn to the enthusiastic exclamations of the audience. The preservation of traditions, folk culture, folklore strengthens the connection between times and generations.

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