Uzgavenes

Uzgavenes is a Lithuanian celebration I find to be much alike to that of Halloween or Mardi Gras. Here we don’t have either of those, and our Hallows Eve is more the traditional sort of respecting the dead, than scaring each other, even jokingly. Some still do celebrate Halloween as Halloween thought, much like in Japan some celebrate Christmas, or places with different New Years date – still celebrate it on December 31st – January 1st just as well. You know how it goes, I’m sure.
uzgavenes2  Uzgavenes here is a spring celebration, not autumn. It is held during the seventh week before Easter (Ash Wednesday). And the title stands for “the time before Lent“, which most people nowadays everywhere, I believe, do not partake in, since depriving yourself and denying yourself on religious bases for many now seems… Well, you understand. On this day, sort of, you get your last change to eat rich, greasy food to your fullest. And traditional food is… wait for it… Pancakes! With all the toppings you can imagine. Yes.
uzgavenes4  People dress up in masks and costumes, like crude and funky looking Chinese masks, and, try to scare the Winter out of the yard. Mid yard we place an effigy made of straws and twigs, dress it up in some fancy and ridiculous outfit and burn it, dancing and chanting “winter, winter, run away from our yard!” Then there is a battle between the Porky (Lashininis), which is representation of Winter, and the Hempen Man (Kanapinis), our Spring representation. I don’t really know whether there’s any prognosis on when the spring will warm us up depending on which of the lads win, but it’s fun to watch alright.
uzgavenes3  After the effigy is burned, children in masks go out and beg for candies from door to door. When you open your door for them, they chant you a rude little poem I dare not repeat, and demand pancakes and coffee. Yes, pancakes and coffee. It is a tradition too, to give them pancakes, but most people don’t do it anymore, since surely at home their parents baked pancakes too, and what kid wants to carry around a greasy creppe around anyways? Instead they get candies and money of smaller value. This celebration happened here yesterday, but I only received three such little groups of visitors, so most my candy stayed with me. It always happens, like this. If I don’t prepare myself – they come one after the other. If I do – they don’t come. Once I just took those candies to school and gave it out to friends and teachers… But yeah. That’s our Uzgavenes for you.

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