Maslenitsa (Forgiveness Sunday) in the Eastern Orthodox Church Date in the current year: March 13, 2016

Maslenitsa (Forgiveness Sunday) in the Eastern Orthodox Church Maslenitsa in an Eastern Orthodox moveable feast that is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent. It is basically the analogue of the Western Christian Carnival, although there are some differences.

The dates of both Maslenitsa and Carnival depend on the date of Easter. As Western and Eastern churches calculate the dates of Easter using different calendars and formulae, Carnival and Maslenitsa do not coincide in time.

Maslenitsa begins a week before Great Lent. As Eastern Orthodox Lent begins on Monday, the first day of Maslenitsa is always Monday, too. The feast lasts for a week that is known as as Butter Week, Cheesefare Week, or Crepe Week. It culminates on Sunday that is referred to as Forgiveness Sunday.

Maslenitsa is both a religious and folk holiday as it combines Christian and pagan customs and rituals. In Slavic mythology, it is a celebration of the end of winter and coming of spring. As far as Christianity is concerned, Butter Week offers the last chance to eat food that is forbidden during Great Lent and participate in activities that are considered not appropriate during the Lenten season, such as parties, dancing, etc.

The most characteristic food of the holiday is blini, a type of thin pancake similar to French crêpes. Holiday activities include fairs, sleight rides, snowball fights, and visiting relatives. On Sunday, a straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa is burnt in the traditional bonfire, symbolizing the death of winter.

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Religious Holidays, Folk Festivals


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