On 11 March, Maslenitsa began in Russia… the last seven days before the onset of Lent. Maslenitsa is one of the most exciting, colourful, and lively folk holidays, which, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with paganism, but rather has a direct relationship to Orthodox Easter. Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy (MDA), told RIA-Novosti, “The time to celebrate Maslenitsa is tied to Easter, for Maslenitsa, the last week before Lent, begins exactly eight weeks before Easter. In terms of church canons, Maslenitsa is a half-holiday. During Maslenitsa, we don’t eat meat, but you can eat every other non-Lenten food, including dairy products… abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays is cancelled. During Maslenitsa, services on Wednesday and Friday are particularly long, just like in Lent, with many prostrations. The idea behind the canons is to gradually bring Christians into Lent”. Meanwhile, pancakes, once perceived as a pagan symbol of the sun, with the Christianisation of Rus, became the traditional festive meal in “Cheese Week“, just as kulich and paskha cheese (click here and here for recipes) celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of Christ.
11 March 2013