St Petersburg through the year – Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Spring has set in for good when the first sun bathers gather on the beaches outside the Peter and Paul Fortress and when, in early April after the waterways have thawed, the city’s bridges open to allow ships through. To warm themselves up after the months of cold, locals celebrate “maslennitsa”, the making of pancakes prior to Lent. They then gather bunches of willow as a symbol of the approaching Palm Sunday. On the eve of Lent, “Forgiveness Sunday”, it is common practice to ask forgiveness of those you might have offended during the year. Once the snows have gone, the first trips to the dacha, or country house, are made to put the gardens in order.
International Women’s Day 8 Mar. Men rush around the city buying flowers for their womenfolk. It is a tradition to say ‘sprazdnikom’ which is congratulations on the holiday to everyone. There are even special performances and concerts and, however sexist it may seem to non-Russians, it is a very popular day. An event called Avant Garde to the Present (Ot avangarda donashih dney) is held in mid-Mar. It is a celebration of 20th century art and music in a city wide festival. Virtuosi 2000 is held late Mar/early Apr. It is for aspiring young musicians from all over the world. They come together to perform and compete on St Petersburg’s stages. Easter Sunday (Paskha). The dates on which Lent and Easter fall change. However on Easter Sunday, St Petersburg churches are filled with worshippers, the evocative sound of ethereal music and chanting and the smell of incense. Russians traditionally greet each other with Khristos voskres (Christ is risen), to which the reply is Voistine voskres (He is truly risen).
Musical Spring in St Petersburg (MuzikalnayaVesna v Sankt-Peterburge) is held in mid-Apr. As the warm clothing and heavy boots are put away after the winter months, the public flock to concert halls throughout the city. Cosmonauts’ Day (DenKosmonavtiki) is on 12 Apr. Space exploration was one of the glories of the Soviet Union and this occasion is celebrated with fireworks at 10pm on this date.
Labour Day (International Workers’ Solidarity Day (DenTruda) is of course on the 1st May. This is a Public holiday and at the Peterhof Fountains (Fontanyv Petergofe) on the first weekend in May there is a ceremony. There are bands and orchestras to accompany the switching on of the famous fountains at Peterhof. Victory Day (Den Pobedy) is the 9th May. After a sombre ceremony at Piskarevskoe Cemetery, smartly-dressed veterans fill Nevskiy prospect and Palace Square in commemoration of the Nazi surrender in 1945. City Day (Den goroda) is the last week of May. There is a great variety of events, mainly taking place around the Peter and Paul Fortress to mark the founding of the city on 27th May 1703.
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