Everyone loves Holidays if only because the heart is overwhelmed with fun about the upcoming weekend, the joy of meeting with friends and family, and the enthusiasm from the opportunity to have a great time. Belarusians remember and value their traditions. Therefore, there are a number of holidays in the country that are typical only for Belarus.
Official holidays in Belarus
Constitution Day is a state holiday of the country, which reminds Belarusians of the main law of Belarus.
The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus was adopted on March 15, 1994, and is annually celebrated on this day.
Day of the State Emblem and State Flag
Belarusians celebrate the Day of the State Emblem and State Flag every second Sunday in May. The emblem and the flags are the symbols of the country’s sovereignty and independence.
The 9th May is one of the most important national public holidays and is celebrated ceremoniously in Belarus. The day commemorates the victory of the Soviet Army over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War, as the Second World War is known in the former Soviet Union. A large military parade is held in Minsk on this occasion and reviewed by the president in person. This holiday is still of great significance for the national consciousness, as every third person lost his life during the Second World War.
Another large parade takes place on 3rd July. On this day in 1944, the Belarusian capital was liberated from the German occupying forces: today this day is celebrated as Independence Day.
Every year there are less World War II veterans in the country, so people congratulate them every year: they give candies and flowers, as well as hold a festive procession.
Day of Unity of the Peoples of Belarus and Russia
On 2 April 1996, Boris Yeltsin and Alexander Lukashenko signed the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union between Russia and Belarus, which marked the beginning of fruitful cooperation between the two states. Since then, April 2 has been celebrated every year as the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Belarus and Russia.
Christmas is a religious holiday that has become a public holiday. It is celebrated twice in Belarus: December 25 – by Catholics and January 7 – by Orthodox Christians.
Kaliady (December 25 – January 7) – prechristian celebration of the end of the year. It comes from Latin “Calendae”, which is the name for the first day of each month. Another version of the origin of the word is the word “Kola” (the wheel) which is related to the turn of the year. In the annual cycle of folk rituals and celebrations, this holiday was the beginning. Later it was very nicely adopted for Christmas celebration by Orthodox and Catholic churches. Sine the Catholic Christmas is on December 25 and the Orthodox Christmas is on January 5 – Kaliady are now celebrated between these two dates. The ritual food was cooked for three ritual dinners: “posnaia viachera”(Eng.: fasting dinner) with no meat or fat in the beginning, “toustaia”(Eng.: fat) or “miasnaia” (Eng.: “meat”) dinner with meat, eggs and sweets on New Year Eve and the last one – “halodnaia” (Engl.: hungry) or “vadzianaia” (Engl.: watery) at the end of Kaliady.
Folks would dress as animals and fantastic beasts, carry the sun and the goat’s head on a stick, and visit different houses trick-or-treating. They would sing special Kaliady carrols in which the performers greet the house owners, wish them success and plentitude. The youth were playing games; perform in folk theatre plays for the public, “skamarohs” would entertain the crowd, play jokes on people.
Easter is the largest Orthodox holiday and the main event of the year for all Christians in Belarus. On this day, Orthodox believers in churches consecrate cakes and decorated eggs, and in the evening gather at a large family table, beating eggs and eating pies. The celebration of Easter is determined by the calendar of Orthodox and Catholic denominations. In 2020, the Booth on April 12 and 19 celebrate Easter.
“Spring Greeting”– is a cycle of celebrations designed to “awake’ spring from the winter sleep which was important for such agricultural people as Belarusians. This cycle includes such holidays as “Maslenitsa”, “Vialikdzen'” (Easter), “Yur’ya” and others. Each celebration is characterized by specific cycles of “vesnavyia” (spring) songs. The most ancient celebration is “Yur’ia”. Yur’ia is in fact christianized name for pagan God-Sun – Yaryla. The typical ritual on Yur’ia (reflected in “yur’iauskiia” songs is calling for Yaryla (Yur’ya), the Sun-God, to bring out the keys and open his mothers (Earth, Nature) womb – to let out the grass, and flowers, and animals.
As usual, these holidays are also celebrated by specific ritual food – eggs (symbol of life in most of Indo-European cultures), pancakes (the circle is an important magical shape – it depicts sun).
Kupalle is the most loved and charished pagan holiday in contemporary Belarus. The tradition is very ancient. Under different names, this holiday is celebrated by all peoples of indo-european group. During the summer Solstice, Yaryla (God-Sun) was reaching its biggest power. Kupalle – is a hedonistic summer celebration of the fertility of the land in the name of a female God – Kupala. It seems like she is considered a lunar Goddess by some pagan sources, although the direct translation of the name is “She Who Bathes”. Lately, it was renamed into a Christian celebration of a male saint – Ivan Kupala. There is a whole complex of traditional rituals, beliefs, love, and agricultural magic. Supposedly in ancient times
Kupalle is celebrated in the night from July 6 to July 7. During the day of July 6 young girls were going into the meadows to collect different “kupal’skiia” (made on Kupalle) plants and remedies – corn flower, ferns, etc. It was considered that the plants gathered at this time have particular strengths for curing and magic. Part of these plants was used in food. Some plants were used for magical protection and the wreaths of these plants were put on the walls of the houses to protect against bad spirits. Some of the plants were used in the “kupal’skiia” wreaths which were weared on the head by young men and women during Kupalle celebration.
The central part in Kupalle celebration was a fire. This fire was symbolizing life and Yaryla, and was expelling deathj. During the day young men would prepare the place to start the fire. They would go around the village collecting old things – clothes, broken barrels – and would take them out to the chosen for festivity place. Usually, it would be a meadow, a forest glade, a bank of a river. Then later the youth would go around the village calling with their special Kupalle songs for the celebration. Special ritual food was cooked on the fire – fried eggs (egg symbolized both sun and life), kulaha (a sort of a puding made of wheat powder), vareniki (dumplings stuffed with berries – blueberries, cherries, raspberies). The oiled woodeDzyady – prechristian celebration originating from the cult of ancestors. It is a ritual dinner (a sort of wake) for commemoration of the dead relatives.
Usually “Dziady” is also called the day on which the ritual is performed and the same name is used for the commemorated dead persons. Dziady was celebrated during particular days 3-4 times a year (depends on the region). The main Dziady were “asianiny” – on the first Saturday preceeding St. Dzmitry day (October 26). Also Dziady was celebrated in early spring on “radaunitsa”, “maslenitsa” and “siomuha”.
The special ritual food is cooked for Dziady dinner – “kyccia” (fine barley porridge with berries), “bliny” (pancakes), fried eggs, meat. According to the traditional part of the food and drink is left on a special plate and glass for the dead. At this day families are going to the graveyards to take care of the graves. Sometimes the have food by the grave. Then it is customary to pour some vodka on a grave.
Memorial Day is an ancestor’s day. Earlier Orthodox believers celebrated this holiday on the third week after the Pocrov. Now it is customary to celebrate this holiday on one Saturday from November 1 to 11, combining two traditions – Orthodox and Catholic.
The Labor Day
In Belarus, Labor Day is declared a national holiday, celebrated on May 1. It is an official day off. May 1 is a day of demonstrations of workers, sports competitions, concerts, and mass festivities.