One of the most anticipated and tasty winter folk holidays has come! This year Maslenitsa is celebrated from 20 to 26 February.
Belarusians love Maslenitsa! The holiday stems from ancient times and goes back to pagan culture.
However, the name ‘Maslenitsa’ appeared only after the introduction of Christianity so its dates are determined by the Orthodox calendar. A week before Easter fasting, the diet excludes meat, but allows butter, dairy products and fish. Therefore, Maslenitsa week begins at different time each year, depending on when fasting starts.
Maslenitsa holiday is associated with the cult of the nascent sun – and at this point you have probably already guessed why the main food of Maslenitsa is a pancake. Round, hot, golden… they are like miniature copies of the Sun!
With time this day has lost its mystical meaning and turned into mass festivities of saying goodbye to winter. Carnivals, riding three-tuples with bells, burning a winter scarecrow, sledging down the snowy hills, and other noisy and cheerful games – Maslenitsa is the best time to go bananas!
Most Maslenitsa celebrations are scheduled for the end of the week, so here’s a guide to seven most interesting events of the Pancake Week 2017 in Belarus:
1. Royal Maslenіtsa in Sula
To celebrate Maslenitsa as a royal, go to the Park-Museum of the interactive history Sula. There you will be invited to join a XVI century celebration and take part in an interactive performance!
Later you can enjoy a batleyka play (batleyka is the traditional Belarusian puppet theater), learn to dance Belarusian dances to live music, visit cooking workshops and win prizes in Maslenitsa games. There will also be an entertainment program for children.
The day will end with a fire show.
When: starting 12:00 on 25 February
Where: Minsk region, Stolbtsovskiy district, village Sula, 14
Price: Adult ticket 10 Br (~$5), student ticket 5 Br (~$2.5), kids free of charge
Contacts: +375 (29) 613-77-01, +375 (33) 615-77-01
NB: You can preorder a shuttle service for 7 Br (~$3.5) in both directions.
2. Maslenitsa open-air in Aźjarco
A perfect place to meet the beginning of spring is the Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Lifestyle located just outside Minsk.
The organizers of the folk open-air Maslenitsa will treat guests with an exhibition of traditional items used for making cheese and butter, a contest ‘Pancake Doll 2017’, a master class in weaving belts, and a Batleyka performance. The program of the event includes the staging of unique Maslenitsa customs such as ‘grandfather’s funeral’ (pahavannie dzieda), ‘visiting a howdy’ (babka-paviatucha) and others.
Famous Belarusian bands will be playing ethnic music
When: 12:00-16:00, 25 February
Where: Minsk district, Aźjarco village
Price: Adult ticket 12 Br (~$6), student ticket 6 Br (~$3), kids free of charge
Contacts: +375 (29) 697-89-01
3. Winter farewells in Belovezhskaya Pushcha
Maslenitsa in Belovezhskaya Pushcha will be held at the residence of Father Frost.
It is possible to preorder excursions around the forest with a stop at the Museum of traditions cultur. But be sure you are on time for the main event – saying good-bye to Snegurochka, Farther Frost’s granddaughter, who is leaving for the North Pole – at 14:00.
After that, Maslenitsa celebrations will begin with dancing and rich program: ‘valiant fun’ (molodzezkie zabavy), a ‘prizes-for-all lottery’, a fantasy tour around the residence, round dances and burning the scarecrow.
And don’t forget about delicious pancakes! You can taste them with ‘Pushcha’ fillings, hot herbal tea, venison shashlyk (grilled meat) and treats from the local field kitchen.
When: 25 February. Starting 11:00 there will be a shuttle from the central gate to the residence of Father Frost
Where: Brest region, Kamenetskiy district, Kamenyuki village
Price: Adult ticket 8.5 Br (~$4), children 7 Br (~$3.5)
Contacts: +375 (16) 315-63-98
4. Great Pancake Holiday at Festivalny Country Club
The country club Festivalny will arrange two Maslenitsa days with pancakes and dances accompanied by live music.
This holiday is for those who wants to try themselves in speed-eating of pancakes, dance around a bonfire with a bear, show their skills in strength competitions, take part in quests and artisan crafts master classes.
There will be traditional ceremonies of the ‘Calling of Spring’ and burning a scarecrow.
When: 12:00-17:00, 26-27 February
Where: about 40 km from Minsk along М6 motorway
Price: 15 Br (~$8) for adults, children younger than 12 years free of charge.
Contacts: +375 (29) 303-33-36, +375 (29) 330-33-34
5. Pancake Holiday at Dudutki Museum
Museum complex Dudutki will also hold a two-day pancake celebration. The first 1000 guests will get pancakes for free!
Besides free treats, there’s going to be a lot of fun: traditional songs and dances, archery, folk games, and pancake post with gifts. At the end of the festival you will see the traditional burning of winter a scarecrow and dances around the fire. If an one pancake isn’t enough, you can taste national cuisine dishes at the Shynok bar.
When: starting 12:00, 25-26 February
Where: Minsk region, Pukhovichi district, village Ptich
Price: 15 Br (~$8) for adults, 6 Br (~$3) for children
NB: Free transfer Rudensk-Dudutki will be operating during these days.
6. Medieval Maslenitsa in Dukora Museum
Celebration program in Dukorski maentak includes animation and live music, the ‘Calling of spring’ rite, a puppet show, excursions to the upside-down houses, games with prizes, alcohol tastings, and ancient dance classes.
The day will culminate with the burning of a winter scarecrow and dances around the bonfire to live music. You can also take part in craft workshops and of course taste pancakes.
When: 12:00-17:00, 26 February
Where: Minsk district, Puhavechskiy region, village Dukora, 15 Shkolnaya street
Price: 18 Br (~$9.5) for adults, 15 Br (~$8) for children
Contacts : +375 (44) 707-77-64
7. Active Maslenitsa in Logoysk
Celebrating Maslenitsa on skiing hills? Why not!
Maslenitsa program in Logoysk complex is probably the most ‘active’ in this list. There will be a huge interactive performance, numerous outdoor games, a flash mob, a photo zone, and, of course, burning a scarecrow and lots of pancakes!
When: starting 12:00 on 25 February
Where: Logoysk ski complex, 35km north of Minsk along M3 motorway
Price: Free of charge
Contacts: +375 (29) 153-00-75
8. Pancakes and Lakes
If you have more time and travel lust, we suggest getting out of the city to celebrate Maslenitsa in Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve.
One-day tours are offered the whole week on prior reservation. The tours include a visit the Museum of Nature and an excursion around animal enclosures.
There’s also a ride in a horse carriage, and a celebration with songs, contests, fun, dances and tasty meals on the menu.
The price includes all of the above, and dinner at one of the local restaurants or cafes can be ordered separately.
When: 10:00-15:00, 20-26 February
Price: 6 Br (~$3) for adults, 4 Br (~$2) for children
Contacts: +375 2132 2-63-13, 2-63-18; e-mail email@example.com
One last good thing!
Maslenitsa will be celebrated in many places in Minsk this weekend. In some of them pancakes will be FREE! For example, at a big fair near the Palace of Sports on Nemiga, in the Botanical Gardens and in Chelyuskinites Park.