01 March 2006

Shitsleeva Maslenitsa!

We had a BALL at the Russian village today! Our entire school went to celebrate Maslenitsa. The village is a living history museum (basically). We participated in folk songs and dances, painted whistles and played traditional games. Then we had a lovely meal together--topped off with blinis!

Here is what the guide told us about the holiday:

This is a week-long celebration to welcome spring that has been celebrated for hundreds of years.

On Monday: Make two small dolls for your home. One, made of straw and dressed in old, ugly clothes symbolizes winter. The other, of cloth or wood and dressed in fresh, new clothes symbolizes spring. Put these dolls in the window to let friends and neighbors know they are welcome to come in.

A large straw doll was made for the entire village as well.

On Tuesday: Whistles are given! Boys get horse whistles (strength) and girls get bird whistles (beauty, ability to rise above and fly). Cat whistles are the sign of a warm and loving family/home and can be given to either sex. The whistles are blown to call the birds back and to cast out sickness.

Wednesday is pancake day! Pancakes are warm and round and yellow like the sun.

On Thursday there is dancing and singing. (We sang songs about how people walked--ladies, grandmas, soldiers...)

Then, on Sunday the straw maslenistas are burned. This is also the day of atonement. You must ask forgiveness for anyone you've hurt or wronged in the last year and make ammends.

On this day, people who like winter sing sad songs.

Like most holidays in Russia, there is a mix of pagan, Christian, and Jewish elements. It's easy to see the overlap in these traditions--Lent, Yom Kippur...I think it's perfectly fine to celebrate the fact that God has granted us another spring!

Kate

2 comments:

Julie H. said...

Thank you for reminding me of your blog. I really enjoy it and went back and read the ones I have missed. You leave wonderful blogs!Love, Julie

Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling us about the celebration. Love, Nif