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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Russia Series at RussianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Russian holidays and observances. I’m Jenny, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 12 - Crepe Week.
Which holiday in Russia do you think holds the record for for the number of celebration days? It's none other than this lesson’s topic, Масленица” (Maslenitsa), a celebration bidding farewell to winter and welcoming the new spring.
But, before we go into more detail, I’ve got a question for you- why do you think Maslenitsa is called Maslenitsa?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening.
Maslenitsa is one of the oldest Slavic holidays, and it symbolizes a bidding of farewell to the winter and welcoming of the spring. The start date of Maslenitsa changes every year because it depends on the start date of Lent. Maslenitsa is celebrated not just on one day, but throughout the whole week that precedes Lent. Lent in Russian is Великий пост (Velikiy post). Maslenitsa also goes by the name “crepe week,” or in Russian, блинная неделя (blinnaya nedelya) because the main dish for the holiday is crepes, or блины (bliny) in Russian.
Each day of Crepe week has its own name and meaning. Monday is called “Welcoming,” Tuesday – “Merrymaking,” Wednesday – “Sweet-Tooth Day,” Thursday – “Wide Maslenitsa” (Also known as “Revelry”), Friday – “Mother-in-Law’s Eve,” Saturday – “Sister-in-Law’s Gathering,” and Sunday – “Forgiveness Day.” Traditionally, housewives would begin making crepes, the main dish for crepe week, on Monday. On Tuesday, young men would invite young women for sleigh rides on icy hills, the young men looking for brides, and young women looking for grooms. On Wednesday, the mother-in-law would invite her son-in-law over for crepes, and on Friday, the son-in-law would invite his mother-in-law over. On Thursday, various folk games and competitions begin.
The traditions of celebrating Maslenitsa are still preserved in many villages. The big cities organize different fairs, performances, competitions, and concerts. Russians enjoy playing the ancient games such as storming a snow fortress. On the last day of Maslenitsa, people burn a Maslenitsa effigy which symbolizes them bidding farewell to winter.
A very popular competition during Maslenitsa is climbing up a wet pole and taking the prize from the top. Climbing up is very difficult because the pole becomes very slippery. Doing this requires great strength and agility.
So, coming back to our quiz, why do you think Maslenitsa is called Maslenitsa?
The word “Maslenitsa” is believed to come from the word масло (masla) meaning “butter.” Butter is indispensable when eating crepes. Nowadays, crepes are fried in a skillet and served with various fillings such as cottage cheese, meat, mushrooms, or condensed milk. Crepes on Maslenitsa are also eaten with honey, fruit preserves, and even caviar or икра (ikra) in Russian.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn something new?
How do people celebrate the end of winter and welcome spring in your country?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!