What's the point of Russian pancake week - a bit of paganism? A chance to eat up sweets, sort out quarrels and play party games? No, I think it's a proper goodbye to winter. In London Russians met up on the seventh day in Trafalgar Square for the Maslenitsa Festival. My family scurried through the square on the way to Charing Cross Station and orchard pruning in Kent so we could have joined in, if we'd known what was going on. See more here too.
Luckily two days later one of my talented students at the university where I teach feature writing, Alisa Antonova (who is Russian, and had just come back from a trip to Moscow) told me:
"Malslenitsa is the start of spring, it's when we say goodbye to winter. Traditioanlly we burn a big doll (a scarecrow?) who is wearing traditional Russian clothes - a simple dress and an embroidered scarf. We sing songs and have tea from samovars and eat pancakes with berry jams, honey and sour cream. It's my favourite celebration in Russia, because it's so much fun - especially when I was at school. We played traditional games and were able to go dancing together. I like that we still have this festival to look forward to - so many traditions are dying in Russia."
Certainly in the UK this year, this Russian festival has it's timing absolutely right. Spring has sprung - I could smell blossom, and probably plants growing as I cycled around London this week.
Over to you
If you'd like to enter an easy peasy poll on what signs your family uses to check that spring is here, click on this link: