Maslenitsa Festival in Petropavlovsk - Russian Pancake Week (PHOTO)

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PETROPAVLOVSK. KAZINFORM - Russian Mardi Gras, Carnival, Carnaval, Karneval . . . that's Maslenitsa by any other name has being celebrated on Sunday in the central square of Petropavlovsk.

Festivities to mark Russian Pancake Week were attended by Governor of North Kazakhstan region Yerik Sultanov. Hundreds of citizens have gathered in the central square. Russian songs were sung by the ensembles of the Russian, Belarusian, Kazakh and other folk ensembles. There were dances, games and rope tugging. People traditionally ate pancakes or bliny. Bliny are Russian pancakes, they are essential to the celebration of Maslenitsa. Bliny symbolize the sun-being warm, round, and golden. During Russian Pancake Week bliny are given to friends and family and are topped with caviar, mushrooms, jam, sour cream, and of course, lots of butter. NOTE: Maslenitsa week began as a pagan ritual and has since been absorbed into the Eastern Orthodox religion. As it stands, Maslenitsa serves many purposes. Maslenitsa signals the exit of winter and heralds the coming of spring. As a part of pre-Lenten celebrations, it is also a pre-emptive strike to the upcoming fast. Because meat and dairy would traditionally be forbidden, Maslenitsa is the time for feasting (especially on pancakes). The name of the festival has its roots in the Russian word for butter, "maslo."

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