Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Maslenitsa: "Pancake Week" Festivities in the Center

It's always fun to see the bright colored decorations come out for Maslenitsa, "Pancake Week." Russians celebrate the week before Lent with lots, and lots, and LOTS of golden blini. The holiday is such fun and everyone "digs in." I made a special trip into the center last week to get these pictures; somehow seeing the primary colored banners everywhere reassures you that yes, it's true... Spring will come before long.

It's only appropriate to enjoy the buttery treats, given how seriously most Russians take the period of Lent... Your average Russians give up so much more than your average Americans during this time. Simply shunning meat, or chocolate, isn't enough... Many give up meat, dairy, and any fats entirely. Most restaurants offer special "Lenten Menus" that make vegetarians smile with glee! (Too bad you weren't here at this time, Rachael & Dad!)

We really like the tall Maslenitsa figures on Manezhnaya Square, just outside of the Kremlin. You can see the colorful figures from afar as you drive down Tverskaya Street. 

These armed policemen were either expecting a dangerous pancake riot or were simply getting out of the cold... During the weeklong holiday people converge on Red Square and Vasilevsky Pusk (the area behind St. Basil's) for daily festivals: free music, dancing, puppet shows, and... of course... blini! 

The festival didn't begin that day until 5 p.m., so I was only able to get pictures of the preparations.

Whenever there is a holiday, you can find bright banners and flags decorating bridges and the sides of the road. It's so pretty!


Tina in CT said...

The colorful decorations sure brighten up the area and winter sky. Surprised there is no snow on the ground as we have it here.

I'd love all the blinis everywhere.

Did you all go to the festival?

I don't remember your ever mentioning Maslenitsa before this year.

Remember when I was into my crepe phase back when you were a little girl? Crepes filled with chicken and various sauces, seafood crepes and fruit dessert crepes? I still have my crepe pan tucked away.

Tanya said...

I absolutely love coming to your blog, it's like a visit home for me, well, close to home :)

Annie said...

Good heavens! I'm emotional this morning - I took a look at those pictures and teared up I want to be there so badly.

I know I'd be a better person if I were Orthodox. THEY know how to celebrate the Liturgical year!