Sunday, March 17, 2013

Maslenitsa and other adventures

A year ago I was celebrating Maslenitsa with the Slavic Department at Indiana University.   There were lots of blini (pancakes) and lots of fun.  This year I'm in Ukraine for this week-long celebration, but being in a big city and not a village, it's not such an important celebration.  There was still, however, a concert and celebration in the square and rarely will anyone turn down the chance to eat a blini or two.
Friday afternoon three of us Americans took part in presentations/discussion with other students at Karazina about spring celebrations in different parts of the world.  The Ukrainians shared with us a presentation about Maslenitsa while I shared about Easter, Megan about St. Patrick's Day, and Alex amused us with a comical presentation about April Fools Day.  After that we spent some time wandering around the center and enjoying the nice weather.  Alex's entire life is now complete after getting to take pictures with a camel on the square.  In the evening we threw together a bit of a last-minute party, but a handful of friends still made it over eventually.

Saturday was the Maslenitsa celebration in the square, so Mario and I went to check that out after lunch.  It was very cold and much too loud, but I was glad that we at least checked it out. When we couldn't deal with the square any longer we walked around a little while longer and got ice cream (perfect for a frigid day, right?) at McDonalds.

The effigy of Maslenitsa, which is burnt at the end of the celebration

Happy Maslenitsa!

Chicken with a guitar...

Climbing the pole

Great Maslenitsa 

The square filled with people and celebration

Fist fighting, tug-of-war, and other displays of "manliness" are common in the maslenitsa celebration

When we parted ways I was off to meet some Karazina students who visit an orphanage in Kharkov called "Родина" ("Family") each Saturday to spend time with the kids.  In the group I went to they were doing some embroidering, but there was a lack of needles, so some of the kids were sitting around bored and a little disappointed.  I myself am not so good at embroidering, but was more than happy to lead some impromptu music lessons, as there was a piano in the room.  One little girl Tamara and I made up a game where she played something on the piano and I had to guess which animal it was.  I couldn't guess her rendition of a fox, but she told me the music she was playing was "sneaky like a fox" - such a cutie! By the end of our time there, those who had been excluded from the embroidery were proudly showing off their newly learned masterpeices - "Hot Cross Buns" and "Happy Birthday".  I promised to bring some simple sheet music next time to continue our piano endeavors.  Hopefully we can play some simple English-learning games next time too.

Originally we had planned to go to the center again to see the rest of the Maslenitsa celebration, but by the time I left the orphanage it was very cold, I was tired, and home sounded a lot more appealing than tromping around the center some more.  It was a nice evening in with pajamas and movie watching.

In other news, last week was an exceptionally good teaching week.  The lessons went smoothly and whatever craziness had been in the air last week had found its way out of the kiddos' systems. This week I'm teaching 5 lessons Monday and that will be it until our adventure into Georgia and Armenia!!

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