10 Years of Russian Spring Festival
in London:
Pancakes & Politics
By Evgenia Filimianova

Photo: Sputnik, Kirill Kallinikov
The London Maslenitsa festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this February with a week full of culinary, film, music, art and fashion events set to take place in the British capital.
Photos: Sputnik, Evgenia Filimianova
The 10th edition of the celebration was launched in the UK Parliament on Wednesday, January 31 where the Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski spoke of the importance of Russian-British relations.

"It is important to hold it in the House of Commons. We are grateful that the organizers are prepared to come here and share Maslenitsa with us because it is an opportunity for Parliament to recognize the contribution of the Russian diaspora to the United Kingdom."
Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski
A week of Maslenitsa activities throughout London is set for February 12-18. According to the Olga Balakleets, the CEO of Ensemble Productions (organizers of Maslenitsa in London), the need to present Russian culture in Britain was always there and the creation of the festival in 2009 was a natural happening, which has been developing successfully ever since.

'Old and Charming Tradition'

Photo: Sputnik, Maksim Blinov
Maslenitsa combines both Russian Orthdox traditions, being the last week before the onset of Great Lent, and pagan rituals originating in Slavic mythology. Making and eating crepes - 'blini' - with various toppings is a must during the Maslenitsa week.

"Maslenitsa is a very old and charming Russian holiday celebrating the entry of spring. We are saying goodbye to winter and hello to spring," Ms. Balakleets told Sputnik.
Photos: Sputnik, Ilya Pitalev
Family gatherings, games, outdoor food stalls, snowball fights, sleigh rides, singing and dancing are all part of the tradition.
Speaking about the origins of the London Maslenitsa tradition and its locations in London, Ms. Balakleets said:

"The festival first started at Potters Fields Park, next to the mayor's office and then we decided to move to Trafalgar Square. Sadly, we stopped this tradition for a while; the program has been transformed into one week long program celebrating Maslenitsa in different venues and representing different aspects of Russian culture, such as film, culinary, literature, fashion, music and dance. We do hope times will change and on day Maslenitsa and Russian celebrations will return again to Trafalgar Square, when political and economic circumstances will be better and more positive."

Photos: RIA Novosti, Alexander Smotrov
Politics Don't Matter
Photo: CC0
"Maslenitsa is a positive cultural event. We hear only positive things from the British people and even British politicians. And it's not a surprise we are celebrating the beginning of the 2018 festival in the British parliament," Ms. Balakleets told Sputnik.

She believes that even though British politicians may have disagreements with Russian politicians, when it comes to representation of beautiful Russian culture, nothing really matters and "they come enjoy and celebrate with us."
The former deputy mayor of London Richard Barnes stressed that the Russian and British people have an enormous amount in common, as well as mutual respect and appreciation.

"Let the politicians bash heads like cows in the field - it's up to them. But underneath it all, the great mass of people have the warm association. When I was in Russia, I was so warmly welcomed, it was amazing and it is the same when people come here," he told Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Made on