Monday, February 27, 2012

Maslenitsa's pagan roots

This is the third year we’ve been invited to Sergey and Irina’s Maslenitsa party. Maslenitsa is a week-long celebration leading up to a fast before Easter. You might think I’m talking about Carnival, but apparently I’d be misleading you if I allowed that impression. As I understand it, Maslenitsa comes out of ancient pagan traditions. As winter drew to its end, the ancient Slavs would throw a big party and forgive Old Man Winter (I don’t know what they called winter, but this will do) for all recent hardships.

This tradition evolved when Christianity arrived, and now on the last day of Maslenitsa we ask forgiveness for whatever offenses we may have committed during the previous year. We also stuff old clothes into a scarecrow and burn it. The scarecrow symbolizes all the hurts we’ve been carrying around from the offenses of others, and on this day we burn up all that bad stuff as we enter a period of prayer and fasting before Easter.

Last year the scarecrow looked a little skinny at the beginning of the party and somebody took a couple of the balloons decorating the room and put them inside the scarecrow’s chest. Suddenly she looked a lot more womanly, and apparently a tradition was born.

This year Irina wore the balloons. Sergey asked me to show him whatever pictures I may want to put onto the internet, and he approved this one.

The really odd thing about this is that after just a few hours I got a message from somebody in Dubai asking how these temporary breast implants are done. Aside from the fact that he apparently didn’t realize he was looking at balloons, I’m really puzzled about how he found the picture in the first place. I am wondering if somebody somewhere has a software engine trolling the Internet looking for pictures of women with big boobs. Somehow I believe this, but I am boggled even by the fact that I find it believable.

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