BY SAVANNAH HARRIMAN-POTE ’20
Feb. 12-18 — Maslenitsa
Maslenitsa is an Eastern Slavic folk holiday that takes place one week before the Russian Orthodox Lenten. According to NPR, the holiday is now tied to Christianity, but was initially celebrated by sun-worshippers to commemorate the lengthening of days and upcoming harvest of the spring season. Maslenitsa is often referred to as “Butter week” because of the abundance of blini, a warm, round Russian crepe that symbolizes the sun; they are usually drenched in butter.
Feb. 16 — Chinese Lunar New Year
The Chinese lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in China. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, this Friday ushers in the Year of the Dog, the 11th cycle in the Chinese zodiac. Newsweek reports that in preparation for the festival, which lasts two weeks, many Chinese households clean and decorate their homes to welcome the new year and ensure good fortune. The celebrations include feasts, often featuring jiaozi or dumplings, fireworks and reunions between friends and family. Mount Holyoke will have its own Chinese New Year celebration this Friday — the College’s Chinese Cultural Association will be hosting their annual China Night at 5 p.m. in Chapin Auditorium.
The Month of February — Carnival
According to the Atlantic, pre-Lenten festivals, often called Carnival, take place around the world in the month of February. Though countries throughout Europe and the Americas participate in the revelry, celebrations of Carnival in Brazil, Venice and New Orleans receive the greatest international attendance. The Rio Times reported that 1.1 million tourists visited Rio de Janeiro for Carnival last year, while CNN reports that Mardi Gras, the last day of Carnival celebrations in New Orleans, regularly receives about 1.4 million partygoers. While practices vary depending upon the country, most Carnival celebrations feature parades, elaborate costumes and plenty of merrymaking.
Feb. 28-March 1 — Purim
The end of February marks the Jewish holiday of Purim. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Purim honors the deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman, the vizier of the Persian empire and the main antagonist in the Book of Esther from the Tanakh. Like Carnival, Purim may also have roots in the pagan celebration of spring. Though a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, Purim is considered a celebration of joy. Festivities include a reading of the Book of Esther on the eve and morning of Purim, the exchange of gifts between friends and Se`udat Purim, or the Purim feast.