Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mardi Gras Lithuanian Style

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Though both locations of Venice and Rio de Janeiro are known for their carnivals, Lithuania also has one-  a.k.a. Pancake Day. The Lithuanian word for that is "Užgavėnės". It is a Lithuanian festival that takes place during the seventh week before Easter. Its name in English means "the time before Lent". The celebration corresponds to Roman Catholic holiday traditions in other parts of the world, such as Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, and Carnival.Užgavėnės begins on the night before Ash Wednesday, when an effigy of winter (usually named Morė) is burnt. A major element of the holiday, meant to symbolize the defeat of winter, is a staged battle between Lašininis ("porky") personifying winter and Kanapinis ("hempen man") personifying spring. Devils, witches, goats, the grim reaper, gypsies, and other joyful and frightening characters appear in costumes during the celebrations. The participants and masqueraders dance and eat the traditional dish of the holiday - pancakes with a variety of toppings, since round pancakes are a symbol of the returning sun.

There are many activities that take place during this day. One of them is sledding. The more you sled and the faster you go, the sooner the spring comes. And boy did we try!

As it has already been mentioned, eating pancakes is a must. 


People personified different characters, including this:

Grim reaper the Death

Witch and her broomstick

Right: Lašininis the Porky
The battle between the two main characters of the day, where Kanapinis beat Lašininis by 2:1.

Battle sumo style-push the opponent out of the circle

Odd one out, anyone?
The culmination of the day is burning the effigy:



The entire weekend was full of Užgavėnės spirit in our country. Lots of music, masks, dances, jokes, songs, and-but of course, pancakes. Do you have a festival like this in your country? Have you ateended any of the sort?

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