Shrovetide. Traditions of celebration.

Shrovetide. Traditions of celebration.

Shrovetide is the holiday that symbolizes leave-taking with winter and greeting of spring. Traditionally in Ukraine, Shrovetide is celebrated for the whole week. This week has name the caseous or meatless week that is associated with dishes that are cooked during this period.

Roots of Shrovetide have been coming from an ancient pagan holiday of seeing-off winter, saved and after acceptance of Christianity. The main dish on Shrovetide is, as known, pancakes that are baked every day from Monday. Also Shrovetide has known by the national junket: there are dancing, singing, driving from a hill on sledge, building of an oil scarecrow, bonfires and so on. Celebrations have gone on for one week. At 2014, Shrovetide has happened to February, 24.

The main ceremonial dish of Shrovetide was dumplings with cottage cheese with butter or sour cream. Also, buchwheat pancakes, filled with fat, have been cooked. Its has been regaled for the all week. The dish, named “skolotyny from butter”, was quite popular among rustics. They said: “Let it be and maslyanka anyhow every morning”.

Shrovetide has been considered as women’s holiday, although and men could take part in it. But they had to pay for it by money or by vodka.

Every day of Shrovetide week has its name and rituals. Holiday week has divided onto two periods: from Monday to Wednesday is Narrow Shrovetide, and from Thursday to Sunday is Wide Shrovetide. Narrow Shrovetide permits a domestic work else. But you mustn’t work on Wide Shrovetide – not sew, not wash, not tidy.

The Monday is a meeting. A scarecrow of Winter is built in the first day of Shrovetide and put on main area. Hostesses start to bake pancakes and regale the first of which to poor and needy person that he remembers deceased relatives. Matchmakers come to visit each other.

The Tuesday is a flirting. On Tuesday, men also go to visit on pancakes, walk on fairs, ride on sledge. Moreover, it is the day of bride’s view and a matchmaking, in order that to have a wedding after the Quadragesima. On Tuesday, women met again in a public house, made omnifarious funs and set scenes.

The Wednesday is a gourmand. Mothers-in-law invite sons-in-law and other guests to regale their pancakes and to show their love and respect to sons-in-law. The Wednesday in meatless week has been named “Znoba-baba”.

The Thursday is razguliay. Wide Shrovetide begins from this day, when must not work, but can go to a bat and fun. Organize fun national celebrations with entertainments: driving on sledge, fights, dances, songs, jumps through a bonfire. And all of it is accompanied with pancakes and dumplings, sour cream and butter. In turning-point, or wide, Thursday, women, gathered in a community, have raised a toast for “that calves are found” and haven’t tried to spin in this day – “that butter hasn’t tasted bitter”.

The Friday is mother-in-law’s evenings. There is the day of responding visit of mother-in-law and relatives to their sons-in-law on pancakes. The objective of son-in-law in this day is to show his loyalty and respect to mother-in-law.

Truth, if a guy got married in autumn that should bring mother-in-law to him on a second day of Christmas, providing that mother-in-law was polite and reputable. When she was grumpy and unfriendly, she would invite on third day.

On the other hand, if wedding was after Christmas, than invitations arrived on Shrovetide Friday. When son-in-law supplied a vehicle well, he put there mother-in-law with great honors, invited other members of her family and drove along a village proudly.

If he was angry on her, he chose a bad hilly way, than the sledge turned over.

On a holiday table, he pronounced  different wishes, principally with comic character:

“Men, drink on a full glass that the throat of my mother-in-law doesn’t be parched!” – he said hinting on her grumpy character.
The Saturday is gatherings with sisters-in-law. On Saturday, daughters-in-law calls on a visit to herself sisters-in-law, i.e. sisters of a husband, and regales them by pancakes and presents gifts.

But most interesting happened in last day of Shrovetide – The Cheesy Sunday, The Black Sunday. In different regions were its rituals and actions. The Sunday is Shrovetide’s seeing off, named Forgiveness Sunday. In the last day of Shrovetide, men take leave of winter, burn a scarecrow with leavings of a holiday food and disperse it by a field. This ritual is accompanied with large-scale celebrations and dramatized scenes. After evening church service, men ask forgiveness of each other for caused troubles and potential hurts to start in Quadragesima with peace in a soul. Also in this day, men make mention of deceased relatives.

That’s how it happened in former times on Boykovschina. Famous researcher of this region G. Demian fixed in village Dolgiy, Drogobich district, Lviv region such memory at 1979:

“Men play, all drink, go to a visit, because the abstinence will be tomorrow and you mustn’t do it. That abstinence, Quadragesima will be continue for seven weeks. Easter will be on seventh week. Even than all – the abstinence ends. Fun will be done on the puschennya (the last day of eating simple food before Quadragesima), then everybody has already gathered there and neighborhood have made a drawing-room. They will wash all dishes from that fat tomorrow, because the abstinence will be soon. Kiselitsa will be cooked. Broad beans, olives with beans - who has and who hasn’t - then pears with beans and apples will be cooked. All meatless dishes will be cooked.   

According to M. Markevich, in Poltava region, neighborhood and relatives went round each other and asked pardons for hurts. Considered that the Doom had to be and so you should “sink a feud with those which are in this world”. Particularly prayerful men didn’t go out, didn’t drink a vodka and remember how much they have have been sining for a life.

In Sloboda Ukraine, men didn’t go to sleep with their wives that “a wolf doesn’t eat piggies”.

So, when men looked into neighborhood or relatives in the morning, they offered such armistice:

“Forgive me!” - said neighbor to neighbor with a deep reverence.
“God will forgive you”, - answered a host or a hostess.
“And a second time forgive!”
“God will forgive…”
“Third time forgive!”
 “God will forgive!”
Men kissed after such dialogs, not expanding only on children, and if not, then still considered that all last hurts lost their sinful core.

These mores exhausted different conflicts between men. Not without reason the wise national proverb says: “You can’t always carry a stone at a bosom”.

Dumplings with cheese were cooked during Quadragisema. But especially this tradition was held at Sunday, and so said: “Dumplings proved that bread would be given”.

Men organized the interesting ritual, named “rinse of teeth”, in the evening. On this occasion, Brockhaus and Efron entered the interesting explanation in their famous encyclopedic dictionary:

In Little Russia, Shrovetide ends by rinse of teeth, because the legend has that devils can steal cheese little by little night by night. This cheese left between teeth while they didn’t pull with teeth by themselves…”

This ritual had its differences in each region. At Sunday evening, when the celebration has ended, you should clean remains of cheese from teeth. If it ties in a rag and carries under a right armpit till Easter vespers that, as oldsters consider, you can see all rural witches at a church. In another version, it says that to see a witch or a hobgoblin you need winkle out cheese from a last dumpling at Sunday evening, put it in a rag and keep in a mouth for all night and carry to a church in Maundy Thursday. Herewith “clairvoyant” must stay on a one site during service and doesn’t move. After service, at home, he should hide a bag into a purse with money and keep till Quadragisema. On all-night vigil, as will be sung “Happy Easter!” - than certainly some of women come and you can consider that she is a witch…

Unmarried girls had their particular entertainments. They taken out bones from a gelatin concealed from Monday and threw from a doorstep to a gate. If its carried, than a girl would be healthy during a year, and when its overflied through a gate – she would get married certainly.

Weather was predicted traditionally at this day by rustics.

Considered that:

Quadragisema would be as was The Cheesy Sunday.

If Sun raises in the morning, than spring will be early…

The last day of Shrovetide has ended by different funs and rituals. Men prepared for the most long and severe Quadragisema and so said: “Shrovetide, Shrovetide as it was, - if it had seven weeks, and the abstinence had one week”. But what to do, if another winged aphorism has said: “Every day is not Sunday”.