|Happy St Patrick's day from Mockba|
Ah to be sure to be sure, tomorrow is St Patrick's Day, a sure excuse for those of us with the merest hint of Irish blood (although being 1/4 Irish is better than most I am sure) to let down our hair and celebrate all things Irish and maybe to get a little drunk as well... Well maybe if we didn't have two kids in tow we could have thrown in the drunk bit, but unfortunately not this year.
Anyway this year it so happens that St Patrick's week (Yes they seem to celebrate a week not just a day over here, and there are only something like 200 Irishmen actually living here...) falls around the same time as the Russian festival of Maslenitsa, which both celebrates the imminent end of winter and the onset of Great Lent a Russian Orthodox version of our own Catholic Lent, so they are both celebrated together across the city. I understand that also this year in Dublin they are celebrating Maslenitsa for the first time in a cross cultural show of fellowship.
Today we decided to visit the celebrations at Gorky Park as it isn't that far from our flat. As Maslenitsa is a celebration of the Imminent
end of winter, it means we are into spring weather so that 600mm + of snow covering the city and which was still falling as late as yesterday is starting to melt reducing the walkways to icy, slushy torrents of water in places almost 100mm deep, so the mere act of walking anywhere is a mission in itself. We weren't even 2 mins out of the gate of our apartment when both kids had slipped over on the icy pavement and ended up flat on their backs in icy puddles, with saturated trousers, lucky it was 6 degrees so they would dry out eventually without being too cold....
|The "Irish" parade|
Arriving at Gorky Park we are met by a huge crowd of "Irishmen", although I didn't hear many Irish accents, getting ready to do a parade through the Park. We head through the security scanners at the gate, which I am yet to work out what they are scanning for as even though it went off when I went through they weren't worried about me, maybe they thought I didn't look either Irish or Caucasian enough to be carrying a bomb into a crowded park.... That is the funny thing about the security around this city, often they will ask you where you are going (I think...) when you go through a guarded gate and when you answer them in English and say you don't understand a word they are saying, they just tend to open the gate and wave you through (luckily I think I am the wrong demographic to be a threat.....).
|Serving Free warmed juice (like mulled wine but no kick)|
As I have said before one thing the City of Moscow knows how to do well is celebrations, there seems to be something to celebrate on a regular basis, having just celebrated International Womens Day last weekend, and only having just finished Christmas / New Year celebrations sometime in February it is now St Patrick's Week and Maslenitsa celebrations with over 100 events going on all over the city including at least 2 official St Patrick's Day parades. The beauty of Moscow celebrations is that they are true celebrations and aren't designed to suck the money out of your pockets like so many events we have at home, there is so much for everyone to do from traditional amusement games and activities, Strongman competition, mechanical horse rides, Blinnis and warm juice, crafts for the kids to do, bands and even an Angry Birds attraction all of which were free and offered prizes for all. After a few hours of wandering around the park we had pockets full of lollies and prizes, including an Angry Bird soft toy for coming 2nd in the Angry Bird slingshot competition that we managed to get into. I thought about the strongman competition, where you had to lift a 100Kg dumbbell above your head with one arm to win 5,000 pyb (about $NZ200) but after seeing a joker who looked stronger than me fail, thought it might not be worth buggering my back or squashing my toes for, maybe the fist fighting tomorrow will be a better chance. Yes you read that right as part of the attraction at this family event tomorrow there is bare fist fighting with both professionals and volunteers from the crowd..... as we say over here "well this is Russia you know", so while we are planning on heading into GUM to catch "Oz, The great and Powerful" in English tomorrow morning we will pop back into Gorky Park on the way home and check out tomorrows programme. I'm sure being the owner of a keg will give me the ability to soak up more punches than if I had a 6-pack......
|Buying Maslenitsa Doll|
|A Russian "Paddy"|