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    SHROVETIDE TO BE OFFICIALLY CELEBRATED IN MOSCOW FOR THE 3RD TIME

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    MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian capital will officially celebrate Maslenitsa (Shrovetide) for the third time February 16-22. The tourism committee of the Moscow government said that the outdoor festival would take place on Vasilyevsky Slope in the center of Moscow and in city parks.

    For a week, Muscovites and visitors to Moscow will enjoy food, folk concerts, fireworks and other entertainment, which are central to the Maslenitsa celebration - the coming of spring. Souvenir pavilions, a skating rink and a stage for daily concerts will open on Vasilyevsky Slope. Popular performers will give concerts. The guests of the festival will be treated to traditional pancakes, pies and pastries.

    February 19 - Gluttony Day - will be the culmination of the celebration and an attempt to set a new world record for the tallest pile of pancakes will be made. Last year's world record "pancake column" was nearly seven meters high. Well-known politicians will participate in this competition.

    Shrovetide is celebrated in Russia at the end of winter. The centuries old tradition of Shrovetide was so strong that even Russian Orthodoxy did not the stop the tsars and Russians from celebrating it. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, Peter I, Catherine I and Catherine II all celebrated Shrovetide.

    The first day of Maslenitsa is called "the Meeting" and opens "the Shrovetide train," which announces the coming of spring. The second and third days are called "the Player" and "the Gourmand." The fourth day, "the Glutton," is when people eat a huge amount of pancakes. The fifth and sixth days are devoted to relatives, "the Mother-in-Law's Pancakes" day and "the Sister-in-Law's Gathering" day. A carnival procession, led by a huge straw dummy symbolizing winter that is burned, is held on the last day of Shrovetide Week.

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