Mardi Gras, Carnival, Carnaval... thats Maslenitsa by any other name. It wasnt celebrated for 85 years in Russia. However, Maslenitsa is back in full force. Since 2002 its been officially organized in the city and is again becoming a mainstay of Moscow's holiday calendar.
The Maslenitsa Pancake Blini are Russian pancakes, and they are essential to the celebration of Maslenitsa. Said to symbolize the sun being warm, round, and goldenthey are an appropriate warning to the lingering cold weather. Blini are given to friends and family all through the week and are topped with caviar, mushrooms, jam, sour cream, and of course, lots of butter.
Maslenitsa week celebrated in the beginning of March. Maslenitsa serves many purposes. Maslenitsa signals the exit of winter and coming of spring. The name of the festival has its roots in the Russian word for butter, maslo.
Fist Fighting Group fist fights are undertaken during the week of Maslenitsa. This may sound strange to Westerners, but it's all a part of the interesting absurdity of Maslenitsa. Fist fighting commemorates Russian military history, when soldiers supposedly fought each other in hand-to-hand combat, but this fist fighting is just in good fun!
Other Traditions Troika rides, sledding, theater, puppets, singing, and fireworks are all a part of the Maslenitsa celebrations. There is usually a "storming" of a snow fort. That these traditions are still alive today is a testament to Russians' long memory and preservation of their heritage.
Performing Bears Bears are still frequent sights in Moscow unfortunately for the bears. In the past, bears and their tamers would perform at Maslenitsa, and both would be served large quantities of vodka. This ended in a wrestling match between tamer and bear, with the bear often gaining the upper hand.
Bonfires and Maslenitsa Personified Bonfires will be lit and a straw personification of Maslenitsa may be burned during the festivities in order to say farewell to winter. Sometimes a woman from the community will be chosen to dress as Maslenitsa. Tradition says that this woman should be cheerfully thrown in a snowbank in order to complete the welcome of spring.
Ты прощай, прощай, прощай, Наша Масленица! Ты не в среду пришла и не в пятницу. Ты пришла в воскресенье, Всю неделю веселье! Всю неделю веселье! Ты пришла с добром, С сыром, маслом и яйцом! Со блинами, с пирогами, Да с оладьями!
Масленица, прощай! А на тот год опять приезжай !