Maslenitsa is the brightest, funniest and most entertaining of Russians holidays. Its history goes back to pre-Christian Russia: the main ritual of Maslenitsa is the burning of the straw figure of the Winter – an echo of pagan rituals. And although Christianity, which came to replace paganism, rejected all the old cults, this holiday could not be erased from people’s memory – so much it has been favored by simple folk. Today, Maslenitsa is a symbol of Russian folk festivals with a millennial history. No country in the world does celebrate something like this!
For foreign visitors, who arrive in Russia, it is a lucky chance to participate in the celebration of Maslenitsa, the Pancake Day. After all, it means to touch the real Russian exotica, to get on the live pages of Russian history, to witness the original traditions of the largest state in the world. Today Russia celebrates Maslenitsa the old way – huge folk festivals full of fun and games.
The symbol of Maslenitsa is blini with the traditional fillings – caviar, sauerkraut, mushrooms, jam. Enjoying the delicious sizzling blini (thin pancakes) is incomparable pleasure followed by the vortex of real fun: sleigh rides, snow house making and round dances. In short, enjoy yourself while you can, since the next day brings the Lent, which, in accordance with Christian traditions prohibits fun and gluttony. Maslenitsa ends with the solemn burning of the figure of the Winter; symbolically it means the end of winter cold and the onset of spring with hopes for good harvest.
The brightest festivals are held in ancient Russian cities – Suzdal, Vladimir, Rostov and Veliky Novgorod, to say nothing of the capital, where festivities take place virtually everywhere: in museums, estates, parks, plazas, showrooms. Wherever you go, you’ll meet skomorokhi (clowns) with the gusli (harp), Petrushka (traditional puppet), and other favorite characters of Russian fairy tales, and street vendors with trays full of Russian souvenirs. By tradition, Vasilevsky Spusk turns into the Pancake town with attractions. At the Kremlin walls there is the highest stack of pancakes contest. In the Manor Kolomenskoe you’ll experience traditional Russian entertainments – snow town battle, fist fighting.