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Maslenitsa - Russian Carnival
From: 2014.02.20 To: 2014.02.26
Maslenitsa roughly translates to 'Butter Week' and it is a time when Russians fatten prior to the Lenten fast and wish away the winter cold. Maslenitsa pancakes serve both causes; they are soaked in butter (often eaten with caviar and washed down with vodka) and the round pancake shape symbolizes the sun and its emergence in Spring. Historically, it was a custom in Russian villages to do various actions associated with a circle, such as going on horseback around the settlement several times, decorating a cart wheel and carrying it on a pole along the streets, and dancing the round dance (khorovod). Such ceremonies were believed to butter the Sun, cajole it and make it kinder. Maslenitsa is celebrated annually during the last week before the Lent. Each day has its own rites and traditions taking place only on that day. The last day of Maslenitsa is Forgiveness Sunday, when everyone asks forgiveness to be freed from sins before Lent. Sunday is also when villagers burn down a straw effigy symbolizing winter.