Maslenitsa, or Pancake week, has been celebrated in Russia from very ancient times, and it is one of the favourite holidays for Russians. It happens in the last week prior to the start of Lent (about 7 weeks before Orthodox Easter), usually in the middle, or at the end of February.
Each day in Pancake Week has a different name, with different traditions to celebrate!
Day 1 - Monday - "A Meeting"
On Meeting Day, Vstrecha, women start making pancakes. The first pancake is set aside for deceased family members and relatives. Also on this day, a strawman is made, to symbolise winter.
Day 2 - Tuesday - "Game Day"
On Game Day, Zaigriysh, people head outdoors to play in the snow, making snowballs and playing other games. Young people also meet each other, and a lot of kissing takes place! Stalls and fairs are also opened on this day.
Day 3 - Wednesday - "Sweet Day"
After many games on Tuesday, it is now the precise time for a lot of eating. So, on Sweet Day, Lakomka, at each house are tables filled with different meals and, of course, with pancakes. Beer and tea are common. Also on this day, men should visit their mother-in-law, and she must feed him with a bounty of pancakes that he will remember for the rest of the year!
Day 4 - Thursday - "Playing Thursday"
On Playing Thursday, Razgulniy chetverok, young men meet to test their strength against one another. There are strict rules for the grappling - you cannot beat someone who has fallen, or is falling to the ground, and if two are fighting, no-one else can get involved.
Day 5 - Friday - "Mother-in-law's Evening"
On this day, Teshchiniy vecherki, the son-in-law should now thank his mother-in-law and invite her for pancakes. The mother-in-law should bring all ingredients for baking, and the father-in-law should also send some food. If a son-in-law ignores these good traditions, it might be a reason for a quarrel in the family.
Day 6 - Saturday - "Daughter-in-law's Day"
On this day, Zolovkiniy posidelki, a woman must invite all relatives of her husband, set the table with food and pancakes, and give some gifts to each member of her new family.
Day 7 - Sunday - "Forgiving Sunday"
On the last day of Maslenitsa, Proshchenoye Boskresen'e, the man of straw should be burned and this custom means that winter has come to the end. People ask for forgiveness from each other, and everyone tries to make amends and forgive all old quarrels. In this way, people meet spring with a clear conscience and an open heart.