Russian girls dressed in national cloths celebrating Maslenitsa

Maslenitsa is an old Russian tradition that has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian.

As a pagan tradition it started long time ago when Russian women and men would bid a farewell to long and cold winter and welcome spring. It was a celebration of awakening of Mother Nature and the return of sunny. Traditionally Maslenitsa was celebrated on a spring equinox day – when night and day have an equal length and the light hours start to dominate over the dark ones.

As a Christian tradition, Maslenitsa was the week before the start of the Great Fast, which preceded the Easter Sunday, giving people the last change of indulging in worldly delights. Once the Great Fast begins, one is not allowed to eat meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. On top of that – parties, dancing, music and everything else, that is considered to distract a person from the spiritual life, is strictly forbidden.

Originally the pagan celebration was held to honour the pagan deity Volos, the god of cattle and farming. He was pictured as a bear, due to that a bear was a sacred animal, thought to posses magical healing power.

The Church tried to ban this celebration and condemn it as sinful. However the popularity of the pagan tradition was so strong, that the Church had to adopt it, shifting the focus from the pagan deity Volos to a Christian saint Vlasiy who has the same characteristics as his pagan ancestor.

The name Maslenitsa is originated from the word “maslo”, which means butter or oil in Russian, and was create due to the tradition of baking pancakes, which are essential to the celebration of Maslenitsa. The pancakes are hot, round and golden, which made them to be seen as the sun, mighty and hot, helping to warm up the frozen earth. Also its round shape was believed to protect people from evil.

The peak of the celebration is the burning of Lady Maslenitsa, a riot related to an ancient idea of revival through sacrifice and death. It stands for the awakening of fruit-bearing powers of Mother Nature, the renewal of its life force.

Today more and more Russian ladies see Maslenitsa only as a culinary holiday and an occasion to get a treat. Though there are still a lot of different events taking place in cities dedicated to the holiday. If you are visiting Russia or Ukraine during this week, your Ukrainian and Russian dating and traveling experience will not be completed without indulging yourself in a caviar pancake date with a stunning Russian or Ukrainian girl.


Burning of the Lady Maslenitsa

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