Shrovetide is a Russian folk holiday that has pagan roots. This holiday presents itself as folk festivities, which are accompanied by wall-to-wall fistfights, feasts, sledding, and the destruction of a stuffed carnival. In addition, the highlight of this holiday is the widespread mass preparation of pancakes, which people are treated to throughout the whole Shrovetide week.
Interestingly, Maslenitsa is the only pagan holiday officially recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church. In Christian Orthodoxy, it began to be called "cheese" or "meat-eating" week (week). And even the name "Maslenitsa" this holiday received only from the 17th century, when it was included in church holidays and was shifted closer to the beginning of the year.
The date of this holiday now always depends on the date of Christian Easter: Shrovetide starts 56 days (8 weeks) before Easter and lasts 1 week, from Monday to Sunday. And the name "Maslenitsa" came at the time of this modified holiday, because during this period of time - the last week before Great Lent - the Church charter forbids believers to eat meat, but allows the eating of butter, dairy products, eggs and fish.
Although, perhaps, the name of this holiday is one of the names of the ancient Slavic goddess Lelia. She is one of the most multifaceted goddesses, appearing before the human race either in the form of a gentle girl, or at the spring equinox - puffy, with ruddy cheeks of Shrovetide. And they sang about Shrovetide like this:
“Come to us On a wide yard:
Ride on the mountains, Roll around in pancakes, Have fun with your heart.
Shrovetide - Red beauty, Light brown braid, Thirty brothers, sister, Forty grandmothers, granddaughter, Three mothers daughter, kvetochka, Berry, quail. "
The Russian people at all times adored Maslenitsa. The rituals of the holiday were scheduled on a daily basis, and it was very important to adhere to them.
On Monday Maslenitsa was greeted: they made a stuffed animal out of straw, and took it singing in a sleigh through the village.
On Tuesday - Flirting, when the entertainment began: there were booths with Petrushka, and mummers who went from house to house.
Wednesday - Gourmet: began to treat themselves to pancakes and other dishes.
Thursday - Revelry (Fracture, Broad Thursday): hot Shrovetide fistfights took place, in which there were strict rules. It was impossible, for example, to beat a lying person (remember the saying "they don't beat someone while lying down"?). S. V. Maksimov in his "Sketches of People's Life" talked about the traditions of one of the county towns of the Penza province: "On the last day of Shrovetide < ... >, all the peasants, from small to great. " It starts with the traditional "wall", when fighters of two parties line up against each other. And it ends with “everyone is fighting, crowding in one heap, not sorting out neither relatives, nor friends, nor acquaintances. From a distance, this heap of floundering people is very much like an intoxicated monster that sways, roars, screams and groans from the passion of destruction that gripped him. To what extent these fights are hot can be judged by the fact that many fighters leave the battlefield almost naked: both their shirts and their ports are torn to shreds. "
In Friday - Mother-in-law's evenings, and a number of Shrovetide customs were dedicated to future weddings and newlyweds (remnants of marriage and family rites). The son-in-law's disrespect for this event was considered a dishonor and insult, it became an occasion for eternal enmity between him and his mother-in-law.
On Saturday - Sisters-in-law's gatherings: young daughters-in-law (wives were considered to have come "out of nowhere", since it was customary to marry) received their relatives.
Sunday - Seeing off, Farewell Day (or Forgiveness Sunday): everyone certainly greeted each other with a kiss and said: "Forgive me, please." And they were told: "God will forgive you." For the same purpose, on Forgiveness Sunday, they went to the cemetery, left pancakes on the graves, prayed and worshiped the ashes of their relatives.
And on the last day of Maslenitsa, a scarecrow of winter was burned. Many people think that this is a scarecrow of Maslenitsa, but no: it is not Maslenitsa that is burned, but the winter is seen off!
Another very important sign of the Maslenitsa of the last century is bear fun. This folk amusement was mentioned several times in "Domostroy", condemning it as one of the "demonic lands", "godless deeds." But, despite the prohibitions and persecutions, bear fun continued to exist, making people happy and happy.