When I think about “Uzgavenes,” images of colorful masks, heavenly delicious pancakes and joyfully dancing people immediately pop into my mind. There is no doubt that this celebration, which takes place in public squares and parks, is one of the most distinctive traditional Lithuanian holidays.
Uzgavenes dates back to as early as medieval times and serves the purpose of banishing winter and inviting spring. In order to scare off the cold season, it is tradition to put on scary masks and special carnival costumes. They are usually handmade and inspired by heathenish characters, including devils, witches, gypsies and animals.
It is commonly believed that if you eat well on the celebration day, you’ll be healthy and strong throughout the whole upcoming year. Consequently, I could not imagine this holiday without a great variety of dishes. The most common dish are pancakes: fluffy pancakes covered in fresh berry jam, crispy pancakes flavored with icing sugar or crepes filled with soft cottage cheese—Uzgavenes is a real pancake feast!
The highlight of the night event is the burning of a giant straw female doll named More, which is an effigy of winter. Afterwards both the young and old dance in the crowd and play traditional Lithuanian games.
Anyone who participates in this joyful festival would definitely want to come back next year!