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Published: March 20th 2008
In the distance, the large woman that will soon go up in flames.
Today was a special day in Lithuania. It was the day where ‘Uzgavenes’ is celebrated—the day that we chase away winter and welcome in Spring. Though the actual day of ‘Uzgavenes’ will be on the 5th of February, the large festival was held on a Sunday in Rumsiskes so that working folks could attend. Though there is also a festival held in Vilnius, the major Uzgavenes festival is the one in Rumsiskes park.
We left much later than we should have, headed to Rumsiskes which was about 20 kilometers outside of Kaunas on the road to Vilnius. We hit traffic about halfway there and the final 10 kilometers we traveled at a snail’s pace (all of the cars, it turned out, were headed to the festival). It took us about an hour and a half to arrive. The place was packed (as you could see from the picture) of eager festival-goers who came to witness the dance, music, and burning of the ‘Old Lady’. We arrived just as the festival was ending.
A general overview of Uzgavenes (courtesy of Wikipedia.org):
Uzgavenes is a Lithuanian Spring festival held every year seven weeks prior to Easter Sunday and corresponds
in the foreground you see the backs of several people dressed in costume. Beyond you see the crowds of people watching the spectacle.
with similar Roman Catholic traditions around the world. The burning of the large effigy is meant to symbolize the ‘defeat of winter,’ and is the culmination of the clash between Lashininis (‘Porker’), personifying winter, and ‘Kanapinis’ (‘Hempen Man’), representing the coming Spring. “Devils, witches, goats, the grim reaper, gypsies, and other joyful and frightening characters appear in costume during the celebrations. The participants and the masqueraders dance and eat the traditional dish of the holiday—pancakes with a variety of toppings, since round pancakes are a symbol of the returning sun” (Wikipedia ☺ ).
There were, indeed, many people dressed up as scary and magical characters at the festival. And we did eat the pancakes, five different types to be precise (white flour, potatoes, milk curd....).
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