Maslyana 2019: History and traditions of the holiday

Author : News Agency 112 International

Source : 112 Ukraine

Maslyana is a traditional holiday of Slavs, symbolizing seeing off the winter and welcoming spring.
14:25, 4 March 2019

112 Agency

This holiday is traditionally celebrated during the week before the Great Lent. In the folk calendar of the Eastern Slavs, it marks the border of winter and spring. It is otherwise known as Masnytsia or Kolodiy.

Traditions of Maslyana 

The date of the celebration of Masnytsia changes every year and depends on the date of celebration of Easter. The main attributes are Maslyana’s scarecrow, folk festivals and pancakes.

In 2019 Maslyana begins on March 4 and will last until March 10. It is divided into two periods: Narrow Maslyana (Monday - Wednesday) and Wide Maslyana (Thursday - Sunday).

In the first three days you can do housework, and in the following ones, you cannot.

Every day of Maslyana has its meaning and purpose.

The Monday of the holiday week used to be called “a meeting.” From ancient times, people would go visiting, there were parties and sleighing. It was believed that if you stayed at home on this day, you would bury your household.

Celebration of Masnytsia in Ukraine
Open source

On Tuesday, everyone would sing joyful songs and go sleighing. On this day, dressed up people would go from home to home and for payment in form of pancakes would allow you to tie a ribbon to their brooms. They would take away all the illnesses and unhappiness from your home on these brooms.

Wednesday was called “yummy,” all the mistresses cooked a lot of delicious food and put on a richly set table. Mothers-in-law would traditionally invite their sons-in-law and treated to pancakes. People believed that if a man chose pancakes or varenyky with salty filling, it meant he had a stubborn character. And if he chose sweet filling, he would treat his wife tenderly and gently.

Thursday is the day people would have a lot of fun. Families would hold various competitions, go sleighing and build snow castles. Men would compete in fist fight.

On Friday sons-in-law treated mothers-in-law with pancakes, after which they took them for a ride around the village or town.

Saturday was called “sisters-in-law gatherings.” Daughters-in-law would invite sisters-in-law to eat pancakes.

Shrove Sunday or forgiveness Sunday is the last day of a festive week. On this day, people would ask relatives and close ones forgiveness for past offenses. They would prepare varenyky with cottage cheese, held festivities. Also, people gathered on the main square to burn a straw puppet. This ritual meant saying goodbye to winter until the next year. The straw puppet was a big and scary doll which impersonated Maslyana.

Celebration of Masnytsia in Ukraine, straw puppet of Maslyana

Maslyana taboos

There are several restrictions on Maslyana. Some of them are strict, some are mild: 

  1. All week one is not to eat meat, giving preference to fish and milk.
  2. One must not get angry and swear and quarrel.
  3. One must keep the house clean.
  4. Earlier, it was not recommended to spend the holiday week at home, ignoring festivals and gatherings.


Festive table and fortunetelling

Except festivities, on Maslyana Sunday it was common to cook pampushkas, buns and syrnyky. However, the main dish of Maslyana are pancakes which symbolize sun and new life. The pancakes can be different: stale, sweet, stuffed, yeasty etc. On the last day of Maslyana, there have to be eggs on the table.

Celebration of Masnytsia in Ukraine, pancakes
Open source

On Kolodiy, people also cooked meat jelly from pork, chicken or mutton. Girls used the bones for fortunetelling. The threw bones from the threshold to the gates. If the bone reaches the gates – the girl will be healthy all year and if it flew out of the gates – she will get married.

Superstitions on Maslyana

If it rains before Maslyana, then in autumn there will be a good harvest of mushrooms and if there is frost, the summer will be cool.

Unexpected guests will bring big happiness and joy.

If housewife’s pancakes turn out with neat form and golden color, - the family will be successful.

The more pancakes a housewife makes, the wealthier the household will be this year.

These days, one should easily let go of old things as they will definitely turn into new acquisitions.

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