History of Maslenitsa holiday in Russia and its traditions

Shrovetide: history of the holiday

From 20 to 26 February this year Maslenitsa week will last, which will end with Forgiveness Sunday. Shrovetide - or Cheese Week - got its name because in the last seven days before Lent it is allowed to eat "quick food" - butter, dairy products and fish.

However, the meaning of the celebration is not in noisy festivals, but in reconciliation with neighbors, forgiveness of offenses, preparation for Lent.

Maslenitsa is not only a Slavic holiday, in some countries it has acquired a peculiar national flavor, and therefore it is celebrated on different dates.

Belarus, Russia, Ukraine

The main tradition is merry folk festivals, games, sleigh rides, comic competitions and, of course, a bonfire in which a straw effigy of winter is burned.


The Maslenitsa carnival in Nice is the largest. Almost according to Russian custom, it is also customary here to burn a stuffed animal from straw. And those who wish can take part in a parade, dancing, a battle of flowers, when a multicolored "rain" of many thousands of violets, mimosas, carnations falls on the audience. All major events fall on the last day of Maslenitsa - "Fat Tuesday".


Among the traditions of this country there are very unusual ones: for example, on Shrovetide, girls have the right to drag guys by the hair. Balls and parties are held, which culminate in a large carnival.

There are many pastries among Shrovetide treats - here you can find brushwood, fluffy pancakes, and "airy" donuts stuffed with jam.

Czech Republic

Few probably know that Shrovetide is an ancient and pagan holiday. Even before the adoption of Christianity, it was associated with the spring solstice (March 21-22 according to our calendar), and then began to precede Great Lent and depend on the timing of its holding.

Shrovetide has long celebrated the change of seasons. The fact is that winter at that time was a strong test for the people - it was cold, hungry, and the daylight hours were very short. Spring was awaited with great joy and impatience, and it was believed that she needed help to overcome the terrible Winter as soon as possible, and for this it was necessary to appease the gods with sacrificial food and various rituals.

Then the celebration of the arrival of the new season was called Komoeditsa. Where did it come from? The thing is that in those days the most revered animal among the Slavs was the bear, it was called Coma and was considered the hypostasis of the pagan god Veles. As everyone knows, bears wake up from hibernation in the spring, when nature comes to life and becomes warm.

It was also customary to praise the sun god Yarilo during the celebration. For this, round yellow cakes were baked, similar to a daylight. It was customary to donate the first baked ones to the bear to whom (this is where, by the way, the well-known saying "The first pancake is coma").

Some of the other prepared dishes were thrown into the fire, then they jumped over the fire and, in the end, a straw effigy was burned in it, which symbolized death and the rebirth of nature. Many of the listed rituals and rituals are still observed during the celebration of Maslenitsa.

Why is Shrovetide such a name?

With the adoption of Christianity, many pagan cults began to gradually be eradicated, but at the same time, others, having undergone various changes, became part of the new faith. The time of the spring holiday has shifted and reduced by a whole week; now it is held seven days before the beginning of Lent. And Komoeditsa itself was renamed Shrovetide. By the way, there are several versions of where this name came from.

The first and most interesting one is connected with the next legend. Once in the forest, collecting brushwood, a peasant accidentally met a lost girl. The man asked what her name was and who her parents were. The baby replied that her name was Shrovetide, and her father's name was Frost. Then the peasant, taking the opportunity, asked for the cold to recede and warmth come quickly. Maslenitsa agreed and asked to tell the villagers to wait for her and prepare various delicious dishes. And indeed, Shrovetide soon returned with a brisk ruddy and puffy laugh with ruddy cheeks, and after it came the spring thaw. The people made a real feast in honor of the daughter of Frost, and the holiday itself was called Shrovetide.

Another version is more prosaic - everyone is trying to appease at Shrovetide, that is, to butter up the spring, hence its name. Some believe that Shrovetide was named so because during it you cannot eat meat, but it is allowed to eat dairy products, including pancakes, which were generously watered with butter.

Shrovetide traditions

Shrovetide is the longest and most cheerful holiday, symbolizing the arrival of spring. At this time, people happily spend their time, visit each other, arrange magnificent festivities and bake pancakes.

Pancake Week in 2021 begins on Monday 8 March and ends 7 days later on Sunday 14 March.

Just on Sunday and ask for forgiveness, get together, arrange gatherings, and celebrate. See off the holiday. Forgiveness Sunday, an important day, do not forget to ask for forgiveness, and yourself forgive those who will ask for forgiveness.

Shrovetide - the history of the holiday and its traditions

Shrovetide is actually considered a pagan celebration. Over time, the holiday was slightly modified by the Orthodox Church, so now you can especially clearly observe the intertwining of Christian and pagan traditions.

The history and traditions of the Maslenitsa holiday are rooted in antiquity. Stay tuned, it will be interesting.

Our ancestors also respected the sun as a deity. Therefore, with the onset of spring, they had a lot of fun, organized feasts.

A tradition has emerged to bake fluffy, round cakes. It was believed that such a dish symbolizes the sun and having eaten it, a person receives energy, strength and blessing. Nowadays, this dish has been replaced with ruddy, delicious pancakes.

Shrovetide can be called differently:

  • Meatless feast - it was important to abstain from meat dishes during the week.
  • Cheese celebration - ate a lot of cheese, different types.

And the name Shrovetide itself is associated with the use of a large amount of oil during this period. It is customary to celebrate this holiday cheerfully, on a grand scale. All 7 days they arranged festivities, chants, interesting dances and round dances.

The most memorable traditional carnival fun was:

Shrovetide is celebrated during the week, during which one should refrain from eating meat: this week is also called meat-eating week. The traditions and customs of this holiday are associated with pagan rituals that existed in Russia before the adoption of the Christian faith. This celebration exists in different versions in many European countries.

Shrovetide History

Speaking about Maslenitsa, the history of the holiday and its traditions and rituals, it should be remembered that initially it was ritual folklore, a pagan celebration that underwent a number of changes after the baptism of Rus. Initially, the celebration was associated with the vernal equinox and was called the Wires of Winter. The Orthodox Church failed to prohibit Maslenitsa or come up with an analogue for it, so this holiday was kept.

Before the adoption of Christianity, the coming of the next year was celebrated not in January, but on the night of March 21-22. This event was timed to coincide with the spring solstice. The wide Maslenitsa in Russia symbolized prosperity in the coming year: people believed that as the year you will meet, you will spend it. The festive week was called "gluttonous", "wide", "honest" because of the abundant feast and continuous fun. In total, Maslenitsa had about 30 names.

This day was celebrated not only in Russia: in one form or another, the festival has survived in many countries: Switzerland, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Germany, Poland and others. The surviving ceremonies, ordinances and customs indicate the common roots of the event celebrated by different peoples.

Shrovetide was dedicated to the sun deity, Yarila. It was customary to burn a stuffed animal of winter, the goddess Morana, who symbolized the cold season and death. Some researchers associate this celebration with the pagan god Veles, who patronized cattle breeding and agriculture. The cakes, which it was customary to bake this week, symbolized the daylight among the ancient Slavs. It was believed that a person receives a particle of the sun's warmth and light when he eats this delicacy.

After the adoption of Christianity in Russia, Maslenitsa was timed to the Great Lent, the dates of which were deliberately shifted. The week was called "meat-free", "cheese" or "cheese-free", because these days it is no longer possible to eat meat, but dairy products are still allowed. The celebration of Shrovetide was so important for the pagans that it was not possible to eradicate it.

The name "Shrovetide" appeared in the 16th century. As the pancakes were oiled, the use of this product increased during the holiday week.

Initially, the Slavic peoples celebrated Maslenitsa for 2 weeks. It was believed that 14 days is the time of the ancestors, when their souls return to earth to help living descendants. In the video, the guide's story about this holiday:

The meaning of every day of the Pancake Day

Maslenitsa also has traditions of celebration on days of the week. Every day has its own meaning. Previously, the celebration lasted 2 times longer, but now the celebration has been reduced to 7 days.

We started preparing for the holiday from Saturday of the previous week. They began to bake pancakes, cook the best outfits, and decorate the huts with ribbons.

Shrovetide is one of the most fun and long-awaited holidays of the year, the celebration of which lasts seven days. At this time, people have fun, go to visit, arrange walks and eat pancakes. Maslenitsa in 2018 will start on February 12, and its end date will be February 18.

Pancake week is a popular celebration of spring. Before entering Great Lent, the people say goodbye to winter, enjoy warm spring days, and, of course, bake delicious pancakes.

There are several names for this holiday:

  • Meat-and-empty Shrovetide is called due to the fact that during the celebration they abstain from eating meat;
  • cheesy - because they eat a lot of cheese this week;
  • Shrovetide - because they consume a lot of oil. Many people await with trepidation the onset of Maslenitsa, the traditions of which are rooted in our history. Today, as in the old days, this holiday is celebrated on a grand scale, with chants, dances and competitions.

The most popular games that used to be held in the villages were:

  • fistfights;
  • eating pancakes during the time;
  • sleigh rides;
  • pole climbing for a prize;
  • playing with a bear;
  • burning a stuffed animal;
  • swimming in ice holes.

The main treat both before and now are pancakes, which can have different fillings. They are baked every day in large quantities.

In fact, Shrovetide is a pagan holiday, which was eventually changed to the "format" of the Orthodox Church. In pre-Christian Russia, the celebration was called "Farewell to Winter".

Our ancestors revered the sun as a god. And with the onset of the first spring days, we were glad that the sun was beginning to warm the earth. Therefore, a tradition appeared to bake round, shaped like the sun, flat cakes. It was believed that after eating such a food, a person will receive a piece of sunlight and heat. Over time, pancakes were replaced by pancakes.

Shrovetide: Celebration Traditions

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