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Maslentisa In Belgorod 2012
Photography & Article by Paul Hechtman Belgorod Russia February 26, 2012



This past Monday Russians started the morning off with a pancake fest. It is the holiday known to Russians as Maslenitsa. This year Maslenitsa started on 20th February and ended in the evening on Sunday, 26th February.

The celebration of the Maslenitsa holiday dates back to pagan times symbolizing the end of winter and the
beginning of spring.

Lent starts on the 28th of February this year and will last for seven weeks.

When the snow begins to melt it is the first signs of winters end. Longer days and the warmth of the sun are signs of spring are once again approaching. People are ready to rejoice and meet Gospoza (lady) of Pancake week.

The tradition of Maslenitsa is connected with remembering of parents who have died. The first snow thaws, sighing for days gone by. In some districts of Russia the first baked pancake is put on the windowsill for the souls of their dead parents.

The only person who had the pancake recipe was the woman who was doing the cooking. The recipe was kept secret from the rest of the family.

There is a tale that women use to say in the process of cooking “For our dear parents, here for your soul is the pancake sentence: moon, you moon, gold your small horns! Look in a window, blow on
the pancake mix!” Those who did not forget to say the pancake sentence would have excellent pancakes all week long.

The last day of Pancake week has a couple of nicknames: seeing-off (goodbye) and forgiving day.

Even three hundred years ago in the palace of the Tsar the holiday was expressed as a time to
reflect on the unfortunate. The Tsar went around to refuges, prisons and rural monasteries around
the city providing relief. Afterwards a calibration of songs and dancing took place in the streets.
People would make a straw figure of a woman and cloth the figure. The figure would be holding a frying pan, broom and pancake box. On Sunday evening, Lady Maslenitsa, the straw figure, symbolizing winter, would be burned.

During the week of Maslenitsa a different tradition is celebrated for each day to the week.

On Monday it is the day of the “meeting”. A straw figure of a woman is made and her name is Maslenitsa. The figure will stand in the village for the week. People sing songs related to the “meeting”, which are very cheerful on this day.

Tuesday is “playground” day. All kinds of entertainment occur on this day as well as foolish and
playful behavior.
Wednesday is “gourmand” day. Families cover the table with pancakes and other tasty dishes.

Wednesday is “gourmand” day. Families cover the table with pancakes and other tasty dishes.

Thursday is celebrated with national games and dancing. This day is known as Shirokiy Chetvertok.

Friday is “mother-in-law” evening, known as Teschiny Vechyorki. It is a custom on this day for the husband to invite his in-laws over for dinner.

Saturday is “sit-round day”. It is a day spent with the sister-in-law of the husband.

Sunday is “forgiveness day”. It is a day of cleansing before Lent and people ask each other to
forgive them. People reply by saying Bog Prostit (God will forgive).

It is the last day of the celebration and people gather in the center of village or city to participate in singing, dancing and games. At the end of the day the straw figure woman is Maslenitsa is burned to symbolize the end of winter
and the beginning of spring. The weekend celebration is also known as Shirokaya Maslenitsa.

Recipe for “blin” Russian Pancakes:

There are several varieties of pancakes in Russia, but the basic recipe

is – milk, eggs, wheat flour. They are served with sour cream, honey, jam, fish, caviar, egg and rice filling, or any other stuffing.

Simple pancakes:

1-liter milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoonful of sugar

A pinch of salt

2 cups flour


Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Heat a flat-bottom frying pan with some vegetable oil. Pour a deep-bowled spoon of the dough and spread it evenly. Bake on one side until the dough bubbles,
then flip it over and bake the other side. Stack the ready pancakes on a flat plate, and spread a
small amount of butter on top of every newly baked hot cake.

If you are going to eat meat or fish you can leave out the sugar or add it depending on your taste.

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