City Celebrates Maslenitsa
Published: February 26, 2014 (Issue # 1799)
Maslenitsa, the weeklong celebration of Shrovetide leading up to the start of Lent in the Eastern Orthodox calendar, began this year on Feb. 24 and will last until Sunday, Mar. 2. Numerous events are scheduled throughout the city, culminating in the traditional burning of straw-filled effigies on Sunday.
Traditionally blini, which symbolize the sun, are cooked and eaten throughout the week to mark the end of winter.
Related: Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring
This year, the fourth International Festival of Traditional Culture, which is dedicated to Maslenitsa, will be held on Yelagin Island at the Kirov Central Park of Culture on Mar. 1 and 2. The program is expected to last from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will feature performances by folk music groups from different Russian cities and offer a traditional crafts fair.
The Peterhof Museum Reserve in the suburb of Petrodvorets will hold its own Maslenitsa celebrations on that town’s Palace Square beginning at 1 p.m. on Mar. 1. The lineup includes theater performances, interactive games, contests, fireworks and, of course, pancakes.
The Babushkina Park of Culture will host celebrations on Mar. 1 and 2 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., with a fire show and the launching of Chinese paper lanterns from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mar. 2.
As Maslenitsa is particularly beloved by Russia children, many of the city’s museums and parks have created thematic festival programs for them.
Skazkin Dom (Fairy Tale House), one of St. Petersburg’s children’s museums, is organizing daily programs throughout the festival week. A similar program is being held for schoolchildren on Yelagin Island at the Kirov Central Park of Culture which will introduce the history of the celebration every day at 10 a.m.
Interactive excursions are being held all week long at the Benua Family Museum, focusing on the traditional celebrations of the holiday among the Russian nobility. Excursions are offered daily, starting at 11 a.m. The museum will also host an exhibition of children’s drawings dedicated to Maslenitsa.
The Mariinsky Theater is also getting in on the act with a weeklong celebration of the holiday with a focus on drumming. Percussion for Maslenitsa includes master classes, jazz performances and an 80-minute tour around the world through rhythm.
One of the largest celebrations of Maslenitsa in Russia is held in the nearby city of Pskov. Located about 300 kilometers south of St. Petersburg, Pskov is the country’s official center of Maslenitsa celebrations.
This year Pskov’s All-Russia Maslenitsa Festival will present a 10-meter-high effigy to be burned on Mar. 2, according to the Pskov Information Agency.
Maslenitsa is celebrated 56 days before Easter and normally falls in the second half of February or early March. The last day of the weeklong celebrations is also called Forgiveness Sunday, when people receive the opportunity to ask for forgiveness for past offenses.