Maslenista festival © waytru
Annually in February or March, Moscow residents engage in a festival of last minute debauchery before the sober month of Lent sets in. Because dairy and eggs are traditionally not allowed during Lent, the most common indulgence is bliny (pancakes), leading to Maslenista also being referred to as Pancake Week or Butter Week. Over the years, the Russians have used the practice of eating pancakes and the culture of general indulgence to celebrate Russian heritage. Celebrations in true Russian style include bare knuckle fist fights, bear performances, effigy burning and puppetry. Although the pancake eating tradition in the run-up to Lent is practiced in many Christian countries and communities, Maslenitsa is special because the Russians have turned it into a hedonistic celebration, making it a fun time to explore the country.