It is the right time for my next post! My post will be about Lithuanian tradition called Užgavėnės or The Pancakes Day. My Lithuanian friend Ernestas Švoba agreed to give me an interview on this interesting and unique tradition.
Užgavėnės is the celebration of the end of the winter. The whole celebration represent the battle between the winter and the spring. There are even two people who represent winter and spring, during the whole holiday and they have a staged battle between each other. One of them called Lašininis (“poker”) and the other is Kanapinis (“hempen man”). Kanapinis is lean, hard working and flexible and he is preparing for the summer, he is personifying spring. But Lašininis is the opposite. He is fatty, lazy – and he is personifying winter.“When they are fighting with each other and Kanapinis always has to win, because the winter has to go,” Ernestas said.
“During the festival people make a lot of pancakes for the holiday,” Ernastas said. “People drink wine and coffee they are playing games, and everybody is having fan.”
During the celebration people wear scary masks to make the winter go away. The masks present a traditional array of Užgavėnės’ characters: devils, bears, and witches. “It’s very similar to Halloween, because young kids are changing their clothes; they put some masks and they are going on the streets and singing cheer songs, and asking for coffee and pancakes,” Ernestas said. “ Of course nobody gives pancakes to their hands, they just give some candies.”
The final and very interesting part of the festival is the dummy that gets burnt on the fire. It is hoped that all the troubles and hardships of yesteryear burn with the dummy. During the burning of the dummy everybody sings traditional cheer songs around the fireplace and when it burns that means that winter is finally going away.
However, in the past the dummy was considered to be a goddess of fruitfulness and had to be burnt in order to reincarnate. The ashes of the doll were split over the fields to ensure rich harvest during the following season. It was believed that by this process all bad spirits as well as winter would be sacked and spring would finally come.
“The last part of the celebration is always exciting and terrifying, especially for kids,” Ernestas said. “People sing songs and everybody is very happy.”
Check out my Interview with Ernestas and him singing the Užgavėnės cheer song!