Weekend Maslenitsa Celebrations

03 March, 2014

The city was full of life and character this weekend, as the population came together to celebrate Maslenitsa (Ма́сленица), the end of winter and the beginning of spring!

It didn’t feel any less like winter over the weekend, with temperatures below zero both days, but with an atmosphere like that on Yelagin Island and in Babushkina Park, you quickly forgot about the cold and joined in the celebrations!

Yelagin Island hosted a smorgasbord of cultural events such as Russian dancing displays, groups of singing babushkas and crowd folk dancing! There were also feats of strength like a tug of war and weight lifting competitions: the man who won the weight lifting competition lifted a 16kg kettle bell 90 times!

Of course, there were plenty of food stalls around, with blinis featuring very heavily in this festival celebrating the incoming spring! Blinis represent the sun during Maslenitsa but there was other food on offer as well, including kebabs and even German potato dishes!

On Forgiveness Sunday, an effigy is traditionally burnt to represent the end of winter so throughout the weekend you could buy little doll replicas of the traditional effigy to take home if you didn’t fancy setting fire to it on Sunday!

The days were filled with culture and the nights with fire, as Babushkina Park hosted a fireworks and fire dancing display in the evening just as it started to get dark. The display was incredible and finished with a huge dance number where the dancers were surrounded by sparks and flames, to symbolise the sun. After this, they lit the traditional effigy, and everyone gathered in a circle to sing Maslenitsa songs and wish each other a happy holiday. Throughout the evening, people had also been setting off Chinese Lanterns, adding further beauty to an already amazing display!

Maslenitsa may be over, and according to Orthodox Christianity, it’s time to give up all animal products, but Teremok will always be open if you didn’t manage to eat enough blinis over the weekend!

Jade Mitchell-Ross is an English student, currently on an internship while studying Russian at Liden & Denz

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