- Title: RUSSIA/KAZAKHSTAN: Russia and Kazakhstan celebrate the Maslenitsa festival
- Date: 17th March 2013
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PEOPLE DANCING IN FRONT OF STAGE PERSON PLAYING BALALAIKA ON STAGE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE DANCING MAN WITH CHILD ON SHOULDERS PEOPLE SINGING AND DANCING ON STAGE
- Embargoed: 1st April 2013 13:00
- Location: Kazakhstan, Russian Federation
- Country: Russian Federation Kazakhstan
- Topics: Entertainment,Lifestyle
- Reuters ID: LVA9I67PC24PBROQL8UXU9D5ZJXL
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: People across the former Soviet Union celebrated Maslenitsa on Sunday (March 17), ending a week-long traditional festival marking the end of winter and ushering in the season of Lent.
In Russia's capital city, a group of Moscow residents gathered around a costumed effigy to cheer as celebrants lit it on fire in a tradition meant to symbolise the end of winter and spring-like renewal after death.
Musicians and singers as well as costumed dancers led the celebration attendees in traditional Russian songs and dances, while chefs cooked up round pancakes or 'blini' the traditional treat of the carnival.
One festival-goer brought his young son.
"Yes, he really liked the holiday. I brought my son for the first time to see how they burn the effigy. That's why I brought him, also to raise our mood," Anton told Reuters.
Another woman said she enjoyed the festival traditions.
"Maslenitsa? Well, we say goodbye to winter, spring comes and warmth. I don't even know - (it's about) sunshine, light, fun somehow," festival-goer Natasha said.
Russians in Moscow were not the only ones celebrating the centuries-old Maslenitsa festival. Other merry-makers across the former Soviet Union also joined in the holiday.
In Kazakhstan, 30 miles from Almaty a group of celebrants, including members of a local Cossack group gathered outdoors to celebrate the holiday.
In addition to the traditional blini, a large pot of plov - a Central Asian lamb and rice dish - was cooked up, and celebrants performed dances, songs, and Cossack military sword tricks.
"It's just a folk holiday that everyone likes. I wish all of Kazakhstan a happy (Maslenitsa)," Alexander, the chairman of teh local Cossack group 'Kazakh Semerechya Union Elders Council' told Reuters.
Maslenitsa week began as a pagan ritual and has since been absorbed into the Russian Orthodox Christian tradition. As a part of pre-Lenten celebrations, the bounty of Maslenitsa week prepares the devout for their upcoming fast when meat and dairy would traditionally be forbidden.
The name of the festival has its roots in the Russian word for butter, "maslo", and for Russians, Maslenitsa is a time for feasting.
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