13 February 2007

It's Maslenitsa!

By request of a friend who wanted to celebrate with her adopted child, I'm re-publishing last year's post about Maslenitsa. This is a holiday I look forward to and will continue to celebrate after I'm home in the US.

"We had a BALL at the Russian village today! (2007 note: We're going back on Thursday.) 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. (2007 note: Your entire house should be cleaned before visitors come. This is another way to say goodbye to the prior year.)

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 to mourn its end.

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!"


Debi said...

Kate I love your blog!!

Calico Sky said...

Who knows, next year I may be celebrating it!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of this holiday...very similar to some Greek traditions. I have to do further research!

Please send some pancakes ASAP.

Deb said...

Great info. I hope to be able to celebrate this holiday and many others with our children.
Thanks for reposting.
How great that you are going to Moscow for the weekend. That will be fun to meet up with some friends.

Lauri said...

Great.... what week is this done?
I want to write about this in Livi's scrapbook and perhaps incorporate this into our life somehow

Have fun in Moscow

Jenni said...

Thank you for this post! I was wondering about all the details for this holiday. We would like to celebrate it with our children.

Jennefer said...

Any celebration to welcome spring is welcomed by me!