18 February 2009

get ready

Next week is Maslenitsa! I'll reprint an old post originally written in 2006 here (it's also over in FAQ's as I get lots of questions about this holiday) for those of you who are new to this Russian holiday. I've seen several posts lately wondering about ways to celebrate the Russian heritage of adopted children. I think this is a great way. It's a neat way to welcome spring. And who doesn't like pancakes? (Ummm...we mean blini here, not American pancakes.)

Old post:

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. 2009 note: We also went last year and are going again this year.) 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. (2007 trip included ice slides! 2008 was too warm so we had carriage rides instead.) Then we had a lovely meal together--topped off with blini!

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. 2008 note: We made these dolls this year. The girls and boys had a good time making them.)

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 maslenitsas 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 amends. (2009 note: I think we get to burn the large "scarecrow" this year.)

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!"

1 comment:

Debbie said...

This is great info - I'm going to figure out what I can do to do it this week - Wednesday's blini will be "no problem"! LOL... I'm not too keen on a whistle in the apartment tho!