11th March 2024 by

Maslenitsa 11-17 March

Post contributed by Lorna, Student Experience Ambassador

Maslenitsa is a week-long celebration rooted in Slavic tradition that acknowledges the
change from Winter to Springtime; this year Maslenitsa is happening from 11-17 March. This festival originated in pagan times and is celebrated during the last week before the beginning of Lent in the Orthodox Christian calendar. Alternatively known as the “Butter Week” or “Pancake Week,” Maslenitsa is a time of joyous gatherings, indulgent feasts, and colourful rituals that unite communities.

One of the key aspects of Maslenitsa festivities are the beloved blini, which are thin
pancakes served with an array of toppings, such as butter and sour cream or sweet
jams and preserves. These pancakes symbolise the sun, due to their round shape and
golden colour representing the coming of spring and the inevitable warmth. Families
and friends gather around tables laden with stacks of blini, sharing stories, laughter and
cherished memories while enjoying this delicious treat.

Beyond the culinary delights, Maslenitsa is a time for communal activities and age-old
traditions. In some regions building towering snow forts and participating in sleigh rides
is popular, whereas in others engaging in spirited folk dances and games is more
favourable. Regardless, every aspect of Maslenitsa is infused with a spirit of
camaraderie and joy. A key aspect of Maslenitsa is that bonfires blaze throughout the
week, symbolising the burning of winter and the purification of the land in preparation
for the bountiful spring season ahead. The festival embodies themes of renewal, rebirth,
and the triumph of light over darkness.


Kotar, N. (2018) ‘Maslenitsa: the Meaning, History, and Traditions of ‘Russian Mardi
Gras’, Available at: Maslenitsa: the Meaning, History, and Traditions of “Russian Mardi
Gras” | A Russian Orthodox Church Website (pravmir.com)
Wachtel, A. B. and Taruskin, R. (N/A) ‘Russia: Daily life and social customs’, Available at:
Russia – Sports, Recreation, Culture | Britannica
Syutkin, P. and Syutkin, O. (2023) ‘The Long Lost History of Russian Blinis’, Available at:
The Long Lost History of Russian Blinis – The Moscow Times

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