Celebrating Maslenitsa

As promised, I will give you a little more insight into how Maslenitsa is actually celebrated today in Russia. It's a fun holiday, one of my favorites actually because it brings out real Russian culture, and it's unique. Well there are similar celebrations in other countries, especially in other Slavic and orthodox countries, but also in America for example with Madi Gras.

Many parks through St. Petersburg and surrounding suburbs will be having week long festivals, with the main celebrations on Saturday and Sunday. To name a few places within the city where you can enjoy the festivities: Gorky Park on Yelagin Island, 300 Year Anniversary of St. Petersburg Park, Tavrichesky Park near Metro Chernishevskaya, and Peter and Paul Fortress to name a few. You can also join the celebrations outside the city, for example in Pavlovsk, Peterhof, or Shuvalovka.

Traditionally Maslenitsa week is celebrated with different activities each day of the week, with the most serious celebrations on the last four days, on these days you weren't supposed to work either. However, in todays times, since Maslenitsa isn't an official holiday and no one gets of work, the main celebrations are held on the weekend, ending with the main celebration on Sunday.

Here is a recap of the different days of the Maslenitsa holiday:

Monday: Monday is the welcoming day of Maslenitsa. On this day people make a straw-stuffed figure of winter, scarecrow like,  dressed in old women's clothes and parade it around in a sleigh.

Tuesday: Tuesday is game day. From this day on the whole village started all kinds of activities, such as: sleigh riding, sledding, folk festivals, shows and other games. The streets would be full people in traditional dress with carnival like masks.

Wednesday: Wednesday was somewhat of a feast day. There were big feasts in households with blini and other dishes that wouldn't be allowed during Lent. There were also markets opened this day selling all sorts of food. They sold hot drinks such as hot wine and a special alcoholic beverage made from honey, and much more. On this day it was also tradition for son-in-laws to visit their mother-in-laws for blini in the evening.

Thursday: Thursday was the climax of the games and fun. It was also known as fighting day, many fist or knuckle fights took place. It was known as a day of competition. 

Friday: Friday is the mother-in-law's evening dinner. On this day the mother-in-law would visit her son-in-law for blini. The mother-in-law was supposed to send over all the tools and ingredients and the son-in-law was supposed to prepare a dinner of blini for her and her friends and relatives.

Saturday: Saturday was devoted to the visits of relatives to young wives. Young wives invited their husband's sisters and other relatives over.

Sunday: Sunday is also known as forgiveness Sunday. It's the farewell party. You should call all your friends and relatives and ask for forgiveness for any wrongdoings. Sunday was a banya day also. Sunday is the last day of Maslenitsa and it culminates at the end of the day by burning the straw-stuffed figure of winter. People gather around the large bonfire and throw in remnants of blini and other food to prepare for Lent.

Maslenitsa officially ends on Monday, known as Clean Monday, the first day of Lent which was considered the day of purification from sin, starting the fast.

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