Winter Festival

Russian Winter Festival in the Capital Region of New York State
Objective: To expand the public understanding and appreciation of Russian folk art, traditions and culture. To sponsor a community event celebrating the Russian heritage of the Capital District of New York State.  At the festival, participants learn hands-on about traditional Russian holiday Mastlenitsa
festival copyMASLENITSA (Pancake Week)

It is the only purely Russian Holiday that dates back to the pagan times. For seven days Russian towns and villages jingle with bells, sing with garmoshka and glare with gaily-painted dresses. The people are letting the long-annoying winter out and the long-awaiting spring in.

Pancake is a symbol of sun. It is as round, gold and warm as the sun. Pancakes are served hot with either butter, or sour cream, or caviar, or mushrooms, or sturgeon – to any exquisite taste.

Where else can you take a horse-drawn sledge ride that will take your breath away? Or take a jaunty slip down an enormous ice slope? Or go round on a giant carousel? The Great Maslenitsa will reel you round in a dancing fairy-circle and your feet won’t be able to keep still to the sprightly chastooshkas (gaily short songs) and byword. Clowns and skoromokhs (histrions) will make your laugh to tears. The shows go on and on in the balagans (Punch-and-Judy shows) and theaters. And those who will not want to be simply a spectator can take part in the masquerade: to dress up beyond recognition or to muffle in a long fur coat and to drink a glass of vodka or a bear.

On the last day of the Great Maslenitsa the feasting and drinking ends up by burning down the scarecrow symbolizing winter thus saying goodbye to winter till the next year.

For the Russian Maslenitsa is like a carnival for the Italians, especially because the initial sense of festivals is the same: the Italian word “ carnival” (carne-vale) means farewell the beef”, and Maslenitsa that precedes the Great Lent, in old time was called “Myasopust” because it was forbidden to eat meat during this week.

The last day of Maslenitsa is called the Forgiveness Day. Everybody ask one another for forgiveness in order to redeem themselves from their sins before the Great Lent. They bow one another and say, “God will forgive you”. Maslenitsa is over and so is the winter giving away to the spring.

Everybody knows what the Russian Soul is! This is prowess, dare-devilry, and, of course, the famous Russian hospitality!

History of the Russian Winter Festival in the Capital Region of New York State

The first Russian Winter Festival 2009, one day event,  was a huge success.  The second Russian Winter Festival 2010 was featured a few events - art exhibition, piano competition, film forum and we had the festival guests, dance ensemble "Varen'ka"  from Tula, Russia. The third Festival in 2011 featured Russian Poetry Recital Contest. The 3rd Rifle Division of Red Army, a reenacting group, joined the fourth Winter Festival in 2012. The fifth Winter Festival: Best Braided Hairdo Contest at the Grand Finale was included in 2013. Music Art-trio "Volnitsa" from Moscow was a headliner for the Festival 2013 and 2014. Folk singer Yuri Shcherbakov from Volgograd, Russia was a headliner for the Festival 2015. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 the Russian Winter Festival was held at the facility in Rensselaer NY. The Grand Fnale of the Russian Winter Festival 2020 location is 225 Washington Ave Ext. Albany, NY.


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