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Calling Maslenitsa the Russian Mardi Gras isn’t entirely accurate. Sure, it’s an eight-day face-stuffing fest, and, yes, it does actually fall directly before Lent. But the holidaywhose name comes from the Russian word maslo, meaning oil or buttergoes back to the days of hairy pagans and way before JC got his. Apparently, the tradition was so strong when Christianity came to the forbidding steppes that the Orthodox church decided to include it in its calendar, officially giving the heathens their festival. Because I’m of Russian descent, all this traditional talk should bring out my nationalism and make me super-psyched for the Russian Embassy’s Maslenitsa Celebrationexcept that the Cossacks spent way too much time hunting my family for sport. Speaking of that, the only reason I’m here today is because my great-grandfather slept through a pogrom. No shit. Anyway, the fest starts at 6 p.m. at the Embassy of the Russian Federation, 2650 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $75. For reservations call (202) 333-5060. (Mike Kanin)