February,22 - March,02!
According to folk calendar pancakes week - the most famous pagan old Slavonic holiday marking the commencement of agricultural works - began on February, 22 2009.
Pancake week or Maslenitsa (in Russian) also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare Week, is a Slavonic religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent-that is, the seventh week before Easter. Pancake Week corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. The Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date. In 2008, for example, Pancake week was celebrated from March 2 to March 8.
Pancake week has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian. In Slavic mythology, Pancake week is a sun festival, celebrating the imminent end of the winter.
The most characteristic food of Pancake week are surely pancakes, popularly taken to symbolize the sun. Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition: butter, eggs, and milk.
Pancake week also includes masquerades, snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings and plenty of sleigh rides. In some regions, each day of Pancake week had its traditional activity: one day for sleigh-riding, another for the sons-in-law to visit their parents-in-law, another day for visiting the godparents, etc. The mascot of the celebration is usually a brightly dressed straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa, formerly known as Kostroma.
As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evening, Lady Maslenitsa is stripped of her finery and put to the flames of a bonfire. Any remaining pancakes are also thrown on the fire, and Lady Maslenitsa's ashes are buried in the snow to "fertilize the crops" for next season.
Pancake week is completed on the first day of the Lent, which has been considered a purification day.