It turns out, that all of the traditions that Chris has been celebrating are for the one holiday Maslenitsa, also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare week, is a Russian religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before great lent--thjat is, the seventh week before easter. Maslenitsa corresponds to the western christian carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. The Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date.
The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is "bliny" (Russian pancakes), popularly taken to symbolize the sun. Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition: butter, eggs, and milk.
Maslenitasa also includes masquerades, snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings, and plenty of sleigh rides. In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its tratiional ctiviity. The mascot of the clebration is usually a brightly dressed straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa, formerly known as Kostroma.
As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evenings, Lady Maslenitsa is tripped of her finery and put to the flames of a bonfire. Any remaining blintzes are also thrown on the fire, and Lady Masleitsa's ashes are buried in the snow(to fertilize the crops)