Known as Butter Week, Crepe Week or Cheesefare Week, Maslenitsa Fest is a popular Eastern Slavic holiday, celebrated during the last week before the Great Lent. Even though the fest has a religious background, its celebration is based more on a folk tradition that makes it extremely fun and curious. See how Maslenitsa Fest is celebrated in Kiev.
The Roots of Maslenitsa
The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny (thin pancakes or crepes), made from the rich foods still allowed (the consumption of meat is already forbidden this week before the Great Lent) by the Orthodox tradition: butter, eggs and milk. During pagan times, the round shape and golden color signified the praise to the Sun because of pancakes' resemblance to it.
Considering the fact that, apart from food restrictions, the Great Lent excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from spiritual life, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to take part in social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season. It is a time when societal rules could be broken including wearing masks and clothing of the opposite gender, role-playing, gorging and consuming large amounts of alcohol.
Nowadays Maslenitsa has less to correlate with religion, but has more of ‘tradition respect’ and entertaining concept.
Celebration in Kiev
This year Maslenitsa will be celebrated in Kiev and other cities of the country March 7-13, 2016. The main events will be held on Saturday and Sunday (March 12-13). The biggest celebrations are going to take place at the ‘Winter Country’ of the Expo Center, open-air museums of Pyrogovo, Mamaeva Sloboda and the Kievan Rus Park. In addition, many restaurants in Kiev also prepare special crepes menu to celebrate the fest and please their guests with original recipes and extraordinary presentations of so common and familiar to everyone bliny.
Photo: Firing up the dummy, symbol of the winter season, in order to ‘invite and welcome’ upcoming spring
Ethnic open-air museums near Kiev offer lively celebrations in the best traditions of Maslenitsa Fest with a range of nice food, entertainment and original action. All the venues offer visitors a variety of folk fun: competition on the balance beam, horseback riding, tug of war, ‘beating winter’ fun that measures force and, if there is still some snow left, sleigh rides, building of snow castles, snowballs fights and other competitions. Moreover, there will be plenty of singing and dancing with invited folk singers and bands, theatrical performances, equestrian stunt shows and fire shows. The main Maslenitsa tradition of burning the ‘winter dummy’ will be theatrically performed everywhere, so it is up to you which location to choose. However, note that Mamayeva Sloboda will offer only dumplings with cottage cheese instead of bliny.
Read: Famous open-air museums of Kyiv
‘Winter Country’ has prepared not only the pancakes, but also the food fair and entertainment program in honor of the opening of wonderful and exciting holiday of Maslenitsa. Lots of fresh fine food, gifts, amusements, workshops, markets, pig races and, of course, the mass festivities for the real fun. The culmination of the fair will be the meeting of the of spring and the traditional burning of the straw woman. ‘Winter Country’ offers kind of modernized version of traditional folk Maslenitsa celebration that will let stay in the city line of Kiev, get acquainted with the traditions and have fun.
Read: “Winter Country” on VDNKh
While staying at the Ukrainian capital don’t hesitate to visit one the Maslenitsa Fest celebrations in Kiev! Where else will have so much fun?