Effigy of Lady Winter is burned and horse riders show off their skills during Russian Shrovetide celebrations in St Petersburg

  • The Maslenitsa festival is a Russian celebration to say hello to spring
  • On the last day of the seven-day event families gather to burn the Lady of Winter

Maslenitsa festival is a popular seven-day Orthodox Christian holiday which celebrates the arrival of spring- in Moscow alone more than 500 events are planned every year.

Russia celebrated the last day of its annual Shrovetide celebration by horse riders showing off their skills and burning the Effigy of Lady Winter.

The folk festival kicked off this week in St Petersburg as locals, actors and performers baked their traditional pancakes, sledged and fought with snowballs while dressed as fairy tale characters.

The Russian festivity is famous for its pancakes, locally known as blini, and its’ unusual toppings and fillings. This includes caviar, sour cream and salmon.

A large straw dummy, which is dressed up in folk fancy dress, is made in the coming weeks to represent winter. The figure is then burned on the last day as hundreds of families watch on to wave goodbye to the cold season. 

The festival originates from Slavic mythology and is usually celebrated in the last week before the Great Lent- this year it took place from 20th to 26th February.

Today was the final day and it is recognised as the time of the week for forgiving. It gives people the opportunity to forgive the wrongs done against them. 

Hundreds of families gathered in Moscow on the final day of the Maslenitsa festival to say goodbye to winter by burning the effigy of Lady Winter

The large straw dummy is made in the weeks coming up to Lent and is dressed in traditional folk fancy dress. The figure which represents winter is burned in front of hundreds of families and  barricaded behind fences while performers stand by with fire extinguishers 

Actors and performers dressed in fancy dress and wood craved masks to celebrate the Orthodox Christian holiday. They host hundreds of events across many large Russian cities- in Moscow alone more than 500 events were organised to bring families together across the country

Performers use the festival to show off their very impressive skillsets as one woman this year could be seen riding two black horses by standing on the backs of the animals and using the reins to control their pace, movement and direction

Other professionals incorporate other skillsets as this man dressed in a white dress coat and hat can be seen showcasing his sword abilities to hit a challenging target while on horseback as families watched in awe

Dancers, performers and locals fully immerse themselves in the celebration and dress in bright and extravagant dresses traditional to the folk festival while showing off their unique dance routines 

While performers stage traditional duels with swords, axes and shields the festival provides locals with the opportunity for forgiveness on the last day. On Sunday many families forgive the wrongs done against them by others and hope to enter a more positive spring

The festival is known for its’ traditional pancakes, also known as blinis, which are paired with a large variety of toppings and fillings. While some prefer to keep the staple food item sweet and fruity others opt for a much more savoury flavor such as caviar or salmon

Sleigh rides are also a staple activity for the festival as families and their children partake in hundreds of winter traditions and sports. Throughout the week people are given the opportunity to unleash their inner child through sledging and explore their snow-covered parks 

The typical Maslenitsa ‘schedule’ 

Monday: Welcome Maslenitsa by eating an abundance of pancakes

Tuesday: Be young again and play by snow sledging

Wednesday: Indulge your sweet tooth as Russian cafes offer special menus 

Thursday: Revelry by ice skating and cross-country skiing

Friday: Mother-in-law day where families stroll through their local parks 

Saturday: Dash through the snow as hundreds of families partake in winter sports activities 

Sunday:  Say hello to spring by burning the  Maslenitsa

Source: Parallel, Russia Travel Specialists 

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