Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Butterfest

In Western countries people of the 21st century live in a fun-seeking society (Spaßgesellschaft). In the course of the year more and more events relax the daily routine. As we say in German: Man soll die Feste feiern, wie sie fallen (One should celebrate parties as they come). And the fests come rapidly as apparently there are not enough festivities and commercial opportunities in my country. So we imported Valentine's Day and Halloween. Since Germany is a world export champion we exported the Oktoberfest and Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets). In 2011 we nearly adopted Groundhog Day in Freiburg.

When I read the Badische Zeitung of today I discovered that a Butterfest (no translation necessary) was celebrated last weekend in Landwasser, a suburb of Freiburg. This time we did not import a fest from the West but from the East. In Russia Masleniza, the butter fest, marks the arrival of spring although older people remember that in Kazakhstan there was no spring and that they were dashing through the snow with a troika rather than in a one-horse open sleigh.

Celebrating Masleniza in Landwasser (©BZ/Rita Eggstein)
The origin of Masleniza goes back to the beginning of the Orthodox Lenten season when meat was already banished but масло (butter) was still allowed. The highlight of Masleniza is the burning of a rag doll hanging from a cross symbolizing Väterchen Frost (Jack Frost).

City retailers rejoice: Next year we are going to market the Böögg in Freiburg and burn it on Freiburg's Rathausplatz.

Burning the Böögg in Zurich (©Wikipedia/Magnus Manske)
P.S.: Note added in, pardon, to prove that new fests come rapidly to Freiburg. On March 3, we will party the Japanese girls' fest,  雛祭り (Hina-Matsuri). On this day the Japanese wish all girls a long life until they have become women. Rice cake, rice balls, puffed rice, Chirashi sushi without fish!, and thick white sake (for the women and not the girls) will be on the menu.

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