If you come to Lithuania 46 days before Easter – do not be surprised if you encounter a frenzied crowd of carnival in the street asking for pancakes and sweets. Instead, rather join them and celebrate the Shrovetide with a bang – a winter festival aimed at banishing the winter and inviting an early spring. During Shrovetide it is essential to eat rich and greasy meals and have a good fun according to the ancient Lithuanian traditions.
Winter, winter, go away!
From the old times during the Shrovetide Lithuanians would eat a lot, sing a lot, and shout a lot – it was believed that the noise wakes up the frost-bound land from its sleep.
Shrovetide is celebrated before the start of Lent and fasting, so it is essential to fill yourself with hearty food. It was believed that the more you eat, the better and richer you will live all year round, so sometimes people used to have twelve meals.
One of the major Shrovetide traditions – wearing masks, and be dressed as beasts, devils, witches, or scary demons. Now the Shrovetide carnival is one of the most exciting and traditional calendar festivals in Lithuania. Every year it is bustling with masked dressed participants, eating the traditional hodgepodge, singing fun songs and trampling, cooking the biggest baked pancake and organising a fight between the festival characters Kanapinis and Lasininis, and various concerts. Finally, the festival is crowned by burning the winter symbol More.
The biggest celebration is held in the Lithuanian folk museum
Shrovetide is celebrated in Lithuania, because everyone is eager to banish winter from their yards but the biggest celebration takes place in the national folk museum in the settlement of Rumsiskes, located near Kaunas.
Here, in the Lithuanian Folk Museum, Shrovetide is already celebrated for more than 30 years. The museum organises this event on a Sunday before the Shrove Tuesday. Each year, festival participants are entertained by about 20 folk groups from all over Lithuania. It also hosts a delights fair, a mask contest, and a pancake tasting. You can have fun in merry games, or ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Every year, new, previously unseen entertainments are available. Climax of the festival is the fight between the festival characters Kanapinis and Lašininis and burning the winter symbol Morė.
Shrovetide Museum – not just during Shrovetide
If you come to Lithuania not during the Shrovetide, then just visit the Shrovetide Museum, founded in the Plateliai manor stables. Here you can learn more about the festival traditions and explore the impressive masks. There are about 250 of masks, all brought here from all places of Lithuania. Shrovetide Museum in Plateliai is recognized as one of the most attractive European destinations.