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Pagans in town! Russia celebrates Maslenitsa

Posted by Kris Roman on March 2, 2009



European Friends of Russia

As the traditional week of feasting in Russia, called Maslenitsa, is drawing to a close, celebrations are culminating throughout the country.

Time-rich in customs, Maslenitsa celebrates the end of winter. Initially a pagan rite, it’s been included into Orthodox tradition as a time of preparing for the Great Lent.

On Sunday, people gathered across Russia to enjoy traditional pancakes as well as to participate in a number of activities connected with the Feast, such as fist-fighting, a type of wrestling, and pole-climbing.

In the Kaluga region this year, people were celebrating with a colourful cultural fair where artists had come from throughout the world to display their works.

Made of natural materials such as wood, hay, or even snow, these works are destroyed in the course of the event. This is quite in tune with the main ritual of the celebration – burning the effigy of winter, that symbolizes the coming spring and the beginning of a new life.

This time ‘winter’ has taken the form of the giant red- and –white ‘Fiery Lady.’ Attached to a sled, its fate to be burnt was unavoidable, much to the joy of the cheerful crowd.

The show has been held bi-annually since 2006 and is attracting more attendees each year.


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