What to Do: Celebrate Maslenitsa

One day after the presidential elections, Moscow will jump into a weeklong Maslenitsa celebration. From March 3 to March 9, there will be about 200 events all over the city, with the main stage on Vasilyevsky Spusk. Various dance and theatrical groups will perform, there will be life-size dolls, contests and folk songs. Booths will be selling blini, tea, coffee and folk crafts. There will be no alcohol sold on the grounds, however, and even traditional Russian medovukha will be nonalcoholic.

Maslenitsa is the last week preceding Great Lent and was originally a celebration of the equinox, which is why the traditional Maslenitsa pancake symbolizes the sun. Eventually it became tied chronologically with the Orthodox calendar, morphing pagan and Christian traditions into a Slavic cultural holiday. It is named after butter because meat was traditionally not eaten that week. Maslenitsa culminates on Sunday, when a doll symbolizing winter is burned, and people ask each other for forgiveness to go into Lent with a clear conscience.

No dolls will be burned near Red Square for security reasons; instead the doll will "transform" from winter to spring, according to the organizers. Additionally, a parade will proceed from Triumfalnaya Ploshchad to Vasilyevsky Spusk starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday. More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the weeklong Maslenitsa activities, a news release said.

On March 8 and 9, Maslenitsa celebrations will also take place in other Moscow locations. At Kolomenskoye, the program will start near the main gates at noon on Sunday and will take guests back in time to a traditional Russian fair with acrobats, a puppet theater and the Defense Ministry choir. Lefortovo will hold Maslenitsa events starting at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, and Lyublino invites visitors to the main estate building at 11 a.m. to show how Maslenitsa was celebrated 200 years ago.


Kolomenskoye Estate,39 Prospekt Andropova,M. Kolomenskoye

Lefortovo Estate,1 Ul. Krasnokazarmennaya,M. Aviamotornaya

Lyublino Estate, 1 Ul. Letnyaya, M. Volzhskaya