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Carnival in Eastern Europe

Mardi Gras in the Countries of Eastern Europe


Ptuj, Stajerska, Slovenia, Europe
Martin Moos/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
Many of the countries of Eastern Europe celebrate Carnival, though it is usually known by its local name. Pagan fertility rites and the welcome of spring are combined with more modern traditions during this time as people prepare for Lent.

Carnival in Russia

Carnival in Russia is known as Maslenitsa. The popular Maslenits festival that takes place in Moscow every year showcases some of the most interesting aspects of Russian culture with pancake feasts, fist fights, snow forts, sledding, and games.

Carnival in the Czech Republic

Masopust is the Czech word for Carnival or Mardi Gras. In Prague, both Masopust and Bohemian Carnevale, the Prague city Carnival program, are celebrated. Masked balls, costumed processions, and hog feasts make this a merry time for Prague residents and visitors alike.

Carnival in Croatia

Croatia Carnival, known as Karneval or Maskere, takes place in various cities around the country with local traditions integrated with modern ones. The Rijeka Carnival is the biggest Shrovetide celebration, but other popular destinations organize Carnival programs as well.

Carnival in Estonia

Vastlapaev, Estonia's Shrove Tuesday celebration, involves sledding down an icy hill, creating traditional crafts, and enjoying a traditional meal.

Carnival in Hungary

Carnival in Hungary is known as Farsang. Formal balls are an annual occurrence in Budapest during this festival, but the Mohacs Carnival displays strong folk traditions with masked characters taking center stage.

Carnival in Lithuania

Carnival in Lithuania is called Uzgavenes. Held on Shrove Tuesday, characters representing winter and spring fight for a winner, and an effigy is burned as an annual ritual.

Carnival in Poland

Carnival in Poland is celebrated with special foods - most notably, Polish Carnival donuts, called paczki. You can read about this holiday and how to make Polish donuts from Barbara Rolek, About.com's Guide to East European Foods: Paczki Day.

Carnival in Slovenia

Carnival in Slovenia is celebrated with local customs and a variety of traditional masks. The most recognized are the Kurenti, whose shaggy bodies and red tongues create a frightful appearance that helps to scare away winter.
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