Užgavenės Traditions

Last night I went to the Užgavenės celebration by the Kaunas castle.  My Lithuanian friend laughed when I said I wanted to see the winter witch burn, because I am ready for spring to arrive in Lithuania.  She said that Morė isn’t really a witch, she’s just an effigy of winter — and that the translation into English of “winter witch” reflects our Puritan heritage.  Morė might not be a witch, but the Užgavenės celebration definitely reflects Lithuania’s pagan heritage.  It corresponds a bit to American Halloween.  People dress up in costumes and kids wear masks.  The difference is that everyone eats pancakes instead of candy.  Like most Shrove Tuesday celebrations, pancakes use up eggs, butter and milk that can’t be eaten during the Lenten fast.

After watching the “parade” — two horse drawn wagons filled with people dressed up as animals and Morė — we walked from Laisvės Alėja to the Kaunas castle.  There we watched a children’s choir sing traditional songs and members of the crowd join in the dancing with costumed participants.  We even danced when the choir director called out “if you want winter to leave, you have to dance!”

 

About amanda

Creating academic and public environments for the humanities to flourish Researching Soviet and Eastern European history Engaging people and ideas as a writer and interviewer Traveling as much as possible View all posts by amanda

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