Monday, February 27, 2017

Maslenitsa & Men's Day

This past weekend was a four day weekend! It didn't mean much to me because I was already off those days anyways (except for an individual lesson which they cancelled). There were actually two holidays this weekend, and the first was Maslenitsa. Maslenitsa is a week long celebration for the end of winter characterized by eating blini (Russian crepes). On Sunday people gather for the burning of 'Lady Maslenitsa,' an effigy made out of straw. After she is burned they throw her ashes in the fields to help fertilize the crops. Maslenitsa as an Eastern European pagan holiday, but now it's celebrated as a marking of the Orthodox Lenten season, and is similar to Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday where people eat and do the things they cannot do for 40 days before Easter. If you are interested, you can read a more in depth article of the holiday here.

The second holiday, the reason we had two days off, was for Defender of the Fatherland Day (or Men's Day). This is a day to celebrate those people who fought in the Russian Armed Forces. However, it has become a holiday for all men, because if women have an International Women's Day then men need a day too, right? Anyway, this holiday is celebrated by congratulating the men and your life, and, if you aren't a crappy girlfriend like me, giving gifts to your loved ones.
Last year the two holidays were fell on different weeks, so A and I went to Kazan for Men's Day. I really wanted to go somewhere this year, but he didn't want to go to Yekaterinburg, and I don't have money to go anywhere else, so I just stayed in Ufa. On Thursday, I met my friends and we saw a play at the Bashkir Theater. All the performances are done in the Bashkir language, but they provide headphones so you can listen to it in Russian. I don't speak much Russian, so I only picked up a few words here and there, but it was based on the Quran version of the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers. It wasn't that great of a performance, and we kept getting yelled at because our headphones were too loud, but I swear there were only two volumes: super loud or off. The theater was beautiful and was very Soviet/1920s art deco looking. I took some pictures on my iPhone, but they didn't turn out so well.
The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful. I went to my Russian lesson on Friday, and pretty much lesson planned the rest of the weekend. A and I did take a really long walk, which was nice because it means its starting to warm up. Don't let that fool you though because A will take walks when it's -40F. I really wanted to go to the Maslenitsa festival on Sunday because I remember seeing them setting up for it last year, but I didn't make it. I'm still bummed about that, but maybe one day!
How was your weekend? Are you ready for Lent?


  1. Isn't every day men's day in Russia? Sounds like some MRA reddit nonsense to me, hah.

  2. Yeah I don't really like the sound of men's day. We have remembrance day to remember people who fought in war, who were mostly (but not always) men - but I feel like that's different! It's nice to have an excuse to appreciate the people in your life I guess. In the UK, the day before lent is "pancake day" so it's hilarious that you call it "fat tuesday"! What a fantastic name! I used to give up all sorts of stuff for lent as a teenager but I no longer feel the need to deprive myself of treats, haha. I love the window details in that first photo, it looks like icing on a cake or something xx


    1. Oh yeah, I just learned about pancake day in the UK... obviously my students are more familiar with British holidays since they study British English.

      I used to give things up but I don't any more either. It's just so hard with my lifestyle. I still follow my Catholic traditions and I won't eat meat on Fridays, but it's easier to do in the USA because meat is everything in Russia.

      I know! Isn't it beautiful. I wish I had my other lens though so I could have taken better photos.


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