Starting today and running through 26th February, the “Moscow Mardi Gras” featuring “Pancake Week” (or Maslenitsa) will be viewable via direct webcast from Revolution Square and other locations.
The festival “Moscow Maslenitsa” (pancake or crepe week) is going on from today until February 26th, with events at Manezh Square, Revolution Square, and Tverskaya Square. This year some 270 firms and self-employed entrepreneurs duked it out of the rights to exhibit their products, with a jury selecting only 110 entrants. Sixty-eight chalets will be opened at the festival sites, including 34 shopping outlets and 24 stands offering food and beverages.
According to the oldest archeological evidence from 2nd century A.D.,sun-festival the Maslenitsa is probably the oldest surviving Slavic holiday. With origins in old pagan traditions, Maslenitsa is part of the Slavic sun festival, personified by the ancient god Volos. In more recent Orthodox Christian tradition, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent.
By western standards, “Pancake Week” is most closely related to the Marte Gras festivities or the Carnival celebrations in Europe. Russia made the “blini” (sometimes spelled “bliny“) famous around the world, and during this week meat is forbidden for Orthodox Christians. But the allowance of eggs, cheese, milk and other dairy products make celebrations of cheesecake and wonderful blinis (pancakes).
Parades and other activities highlight Pancake Week culminating this year on February 25 and 26 in a Sun Parade ice carnival devoted to the Maslenitsa, at the VDNKh skating rink.