Brits know it as Pancake Day – but the Russians call it ‘Maslenitsa’ and their celebrations last a whole week, the country’s traditions going way beyond just consuming pancakes. As one of the oldest Slavic holidays, Maslenitsa has religious connotations, and is also a festival to welcome the arrival of spring.
Taking place the day before the beginning of Lent (along the lines of Cheese Eating Sunday followed by Green Monday, which we celebrate here in Cyprus), Maslenitsa is considered the last opportunity to party and indulge in eggs, milk and butter (hence the pancakes) before Lent begins.
This old Russian folk holiday is also a farewell to winter, and includes a variety of outdoor activities and games. This year, on March 1, Paphos will host its own celebrations of the holiday in the town centre at Ibrahim’s Khan square.
“Spectators will be privileged to watch the finest talents performing on stage, with a lot of entertainment and delicious treats,” say the organisers. “Culinary delights will be displayed for sale at the fair along with souvenirs, which can be purchased for loved ones and friends as a token of happiness and prosperity. These Maslenitsa celebrations will be a lovely way to spend the weekend for yourself and your family, creating vibrant impressions, positive emotions and an energy boost for the coming season.”
So, while Limassol roasts in a carnival fever, Paphos will remember an old Russian tradition full of games, music… oh, and fluffy pancakes.
Russian holiday celebrations with games, pancakes, music and a fair, to celebrate the beginning of spring and Easter season. March 1. Ibrahim’s Khan square, Paphos. 12pm