Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras (Uzgavenes) celebration in Lithuania

Today Lithuania celebrates Mardi Gras or Uzgavenes (in Lithuanian). It is a festival celebrated 7 weeks before Eastern and before the beginning of the Lent. Uzgavenes represents the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The festival has deep pagan roots. People make and put on scary masks and carnival costumes. The most popular characters are witches, devils, goats, beggars, horses, cranes, gypsies. The masks in Lithuania are very different from those in other countries.

Pictures are made in celebration of Uzgavenes in Vilnius, 2011.







People celebrate Uzgavenes dancing, singing, playing games and competing in various competitions. The celebration must be loud to scare off the winter. The defeat of winter is also represented by a theatrical battle between Lasininis (Porker) and Kanapinis (Hempen man). The fat Lasininis represent winter and his opposite Kanapinis represent spring. Of course Kanapinis always wins :) The celebration also includes the burning of the effigy of winter, named More.

Uzgavenes dancing

Singing

Lasininis and Kanapinis


The traditional Uzgavenes food is pancakes. They symbolize the returning sun because of their round shape. You have to eat a lot on Uzgavenes day to stay strong and healthy all year.

For me Uzgavenes was a special day when I was a kid. In Lithuania we have tradition for children to put on masks and go from door to door asking for sweets, pancakes or money on Mardi Gras. It’s like children in America do on Halloween. I used to walk and ask for sweets too and I remember how fun it was. Sadly now this tradition is not so popular any more. Every year less children ring my door bell.

Uzgavenes are celebrated in cities’ squares. But the most interesting celebration takes place in Rumsiskes – an ethnographic village-museum.

11 comments:

Balqis said...

Thanks for sharing this post. It's interesting to know celebrations from different parts of the world. :)

Agne said...

Do you celebrate Mardi Gras in your country?

Jim T, Show-Me State said...

In New Orleans, US, it has become a Mardi Gras modern custom for women to expose their breasts in exchange for plastic beads and jewelry. Also, there are a lot of people that vomit in the streets from excessive drunkenness. Although, that is a year-round custom in New Orleans. I think the Lithuanian traditions are more dignified.

Agne said...

No pancakes and masks in New Orleans?

Agne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Bossenberger said...

I have celebrated Mardi Gras in Brasil, New Orleans and Mexico. I think the celebration in Lithuania looks interesting. I would love to visit someday

Nicole Kancel said...

Thank you so much for keeping up with this blog. I very much enjoy learning about the country my grandparents have moved from!

Agne said...

Nicole, do you live in USA? Are you coming to Lithuania someday?

Nicole Kancel said...

I would love to, mean while I'm trying to learn as much as I can about the country and it's culture.

online diploma said...

People look spooky to me.

Agne said...

They have to look spooky to scare off the winter!