All fired up to say goodbye to winter

The Russian village of Nikola-Lenivets was all fired up for the annual Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide, celebrations last Saturday.

This ancient farewell festival to winter is traditionally celebrated in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine before the Great Lent begins, according to the Eastern Orthodox Christian calendar.

The festivities are a time when people let their hair down with activities such as snowball fights, sleigh rides, traditional games and gorging on special pancakes. But the highlight is usually the burning of a large effigy that represents winter.

In Nikola-Lenivets, about 220km outside Moscow, it was a 30m-tall "Gothic building" made of twigs and debris built by Russian artist Nikolay Polissky that was burned down.

It was a concept that the artist had been toying with for some time, he said on the official website for the event. What interested him, he added, was the idea of how the dance of the flames would create images in real time.

Mr Polissky is known for his towering, handcrafted structures - many of which have been built in Nikola-Lenivets with the help of the area's residents.

His works have helped to breathe new life into what was a semi-abandoned village, and transform it into a popular art park.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'All fired up to say goodbye to winter'. Subscribe