Learning about different cultures, the holidays they celebrate, and what activities and foods are specific to those days is something I find fascinating.
Most of these holidays pre-date Christianity and have their origins in paganism. Masliana is one such holiday. This is a Slavic holiday also known as the "Pancake Week", Cheese Week, or Butter Week".
The primary purpose of this holiday is to drive winter away and welcome in or wake up spring. The dates of Masliana are linked to the spring equinox and vary year to year.
As the name implies, pancakes (crepes) are the main focus of this holiday. Pancakes are served in many different ways each day of the week.
Each day of this week-long holiday has a specific meaning or custom associated with it.
The first day (Monday) is "Welcoming Masliana". Preparations for the week beginning on this day include preparations for entertainment and activities including building the Masliana scarecrow. People visit relatives and begin making pancakes.
The second day (Tuesday) is known as the "Flirting" day. This day is all about matchmaking, bringing young people together as well as celebrating young couples that were married the year before. On this day unmarried girls would have parties and make pancakes for their potential husbands.
Wednesday is the "Enjoy delicacies day" famous for the "Mother-in-law pancakes". On this day the mothers would invite their sons-in-law and feed them pancakes. This tradition is still in practice today.
Thursday is "Participate in revelry day". This is the day when the celebrations are at their height. Along with eating piles of pancakes, there are also many organized festivities. Some of the activities can include singing, dancing, sled races, and men would engage in fistfights.
Fires are built and people would jump over the fires thinking it will purify their soul. This is the biggest feast day showcasing a diverse display of delicacies.
Friday is "get together with mother-in-law day". This day is the reverse of day three. On this day the son-in-law has to treat his mother-in-law with pancakes. You can tell how much he respects his mother-in-law by how elaborate the meal he provides.
On the sixth day a young wife is to invite her husband's sisters and entertain them and of course, treat them with a meal of pancakes.
The final and most important day of Masliana is "Sunday of Forgiveness". On this day it is customary to ask forgiveness of anyone you may have offended.
The culmination of this holiday is marked by a gathering of the people to the town's main square to burn the Masliana scarecrow. It is the burning of this figure that is supposed to scare winter away and wake up spring.
There are many recipes for crepes and even more types of things to fill them with. You can fill them with a sweet or savory filling or just eat them plain.