Forgiveness Sunday

Today is Forgiveness Sunday, marking the end of Maslenitsa (Ukrainian: Масниця, Russian: Ма́сленица, Belarusian: Масьленіца, Maślenica, also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare Week), celebrated during the last week before Great Lent—that is, the seventh week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter).

During the week of Maslenitsa, meat is already forbidden to Orthodox Christians, making it a myasopostnaya nedelya (Russian: мясопостная неделя, English “meat-empty week” or “meat-fast week”). It is the last week during which milk, cheese and other dairy products are permitted, leading to its other name of “Cheese-fare week” or “Pancake week”. During Lent, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs are forbidden. Furthermore, Lent also excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from the spiritual life. Thus, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to partake of dairy products and those social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season.

The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny (pancakes). Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition: butter, eggs and milk.
See http://www.sras.org/maslenitsa_blin
prodigal son
After Vespers – after hearing the announcement of Lent in the Great Prokeimenon: “Turn not away Thy face from Thy child for I am afflicted! Hear me speedily! Draw near unto my soul and deliver it!”, after making our entrance into Lenten worship, with its special memories, with the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, with its prostrations – we ask forgiveness from each other, we perform the rite of forgiveness and reconciliation. And as we approach each other with words of reconciliation, the choir intones the Paschal hymns, filling the church with the anticipation of Paschal joy.
See http://franthony.com/2013/03/forgiveness-sunday-by-fr-alexander-schmemann/

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