Cheese-fare/pancake week (Maslenitsa) begins

The Russian term is Масленица and it is observed the week prior to the Orthodox Fast leading to Easter. Often it is called pancake week or butter week by some.

maslennitsa n

The observance of Maslenitsa is an tradition of Eastern Slavs that is both a religious and folk holiday celebrated during the last week before Great Lent, marking the seventh week before Orthodox Easter. The roots of Maslenitsa are in both pagan and Christian traditions and it is the celebration of the coming end of winter.

For Orthodox Christians, meat along with eggs and all dairy products are forbidden during the Fast. Maslenitsa is the last week during which milk, cheese and other dairy products, eggs, and cooking oil are permitted. Maslenitsa week meals will be meat-less but plenty of foods with dairy and eggs will be served.

Maslenitsa week

The week is symbolized by blini, Russian styled thin pancakes similar to crepes.

The last day of Maslenitsa Week is called “Forgiveness Sunday” and it is the traditional day for people to ask their family and friends for forgiveness, hoping to hear the words “God will forgive” in response.