Maslenitsa fair at IZOLYATSIA
I`m going to give you an account of our emotional celebration of Maslenitsa – the most cheerful and delicious folk festival lasting an entire week! The tradition of Maslenitsa dates back to pagan times, when Russian folk would bid farewell to winter and welcome spring. As with many ancient holidays, Maslenitsa has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian.
In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a celebration of the imment end of the winter.
Maslenitsa has always been celebrated, even during the Soviet times when all religious holidays were banned. People would then observe the festive side of the holiday, prepare pancakes and gather together with friends and relatives. But before that time, the week was important in many ways, social and religious. For that reason, people would not only gather and celebrate the end of winter, the return of life after a harsh winter, but also show their love to close relatives and ask for forgiveness.
The name of the holiday, Maslenitsa (derived from maslo, which means butter or oil in Russian) owes its existence to the tradition of baking pancakes (or blini , in Russian). They are essential to the celebration of Maslenitsa. Hot, round, and golden, pancakes, as people believed, embody a little of the sun’s grace and might, helping to warm up the frozen earth.
Our multicultural volunteer group was eager to get acquainted with true Ukrainian traditions, and on the “Forgiveness Sunday” (the last day of Pancake Week) we finally had the great opportunity to do so, thanks to IZOLYATSIA. Platform for Cultural Initiatives. The colourful event took place in a big warehouse where everyone was able to discover and buy directly from the designers many interesting handmade dolls, souvenirs, tableware, jewellery, toys and almost anything you can think of 🙂 Also we didn`t hesitate to take part in some of the workshops, where people were creating something new together, rediscovering their hidden talents or just making new friends. And after the whirl of bright impressions, we have finally realised “Without pancakes there’s no Maslenitsa!” Who can resist the temptation to take an immediate bite from a freshly made pancake? Believe me, here they make the tastiest pancakes ever!
The burning of Lady Maslenitsa
As the culmination of the celebration, Lady Maslenitsa was stripped of her finery and put to the flames of a bonfire. The rite of burning the effigy is related to the ancient, both pagan and Christian, idea of revival through sacrifice and death. It stands for the awakening of fruit-bearing powers of nature, the renewal of its life force. This pristine holiday harbors profound meaning: the birth of life through struggle, death and revival. For this logic, the mascot of the celebration was chosen to be an effigy of a woman symbolizing the bearer of a new life. Lady Maslenitsa, made out of straw and clad in brightly-colored garments, is the center of the celebration. This rite was a way for people to be purged, to let go anger and grudge they had built up the previous year and to enter the New Year purified and light-hearted.