folklore

In spite of the fact that Christianity has existed in Belarus for more than ten centures, ancient rituals and traditions connected with pagan times continue to live within the people. Even now huge boulders with strange pictures are found ir remote corners and forest thickets of the country. They were worshiped by belarusian pagans. Yet the most surprising thing is that some of the traces of sacrifices at those places are related to… the present days! Paganism is still present in popular festivals. The most colourful of them are Kolyady and Kupalie.

 

 Kupalie is the most mysterious of all Belarusian festivals. It is celebrated on the night from the 6th to 7th of July. According to popular legends existing for thousands of years, a flower of a fern unfolds on Kupala midnight and the one who finds it will be eternally young and happy. And that person will know the future. On that night young people set off for the forest with a naive, yet romantic hope to pick up such miraculous flower. In the meantime girls bind wreaths and let them drift down the river trying to find out their destiny and marital future. At the same time it is the celebration of the power of nature through the marking of the summer solstice. It would be difficult to find a more picturesque holiday. The essential part of it is the great fire, which according to the belief  has a purifying power. Young couples hand in hand must jump over it. Sometimes young people clear themselves in water of rivers and lakes. Besides, they move on a round dance. It’s an amazingly wonderful and ancient pagan festival. The Kupala night is the darkest one in the year. One step away from the fire and you plunge into absolute night and stars. But what sort of a little flame is glimmering in the depth of the forest? Is it really the flower of fern?

 

Kolyady is actually the celebration of the New Year as per the old calendar (prior to 1917) on the night of January 13–14. Traditionally some people dress or the images of animals or fiction creatures, and then noisy companies, holding the depiction of the sun and a nanny-goat’s head, begin to visit houses one after another singing original Kolyady songs: in response people treat them with the food from their tables and sometimes give them money. Nowadays this old holiday is celebrated mostly for fun. 

 

 

 

One more folk festive of pagan origin is Maslenitsa. It is a ceremony at the junction of two seasons; it sees off winter and meets spring. Popular festivals of folk music is organized at the time of Maslenitsa. People sing traditional songs and dance in the streets wearing national costumes. But the distinguishing feature of this holiday is, of course, pancakes!

 

 

New Year is widely celebrated all over the country. Preparations to this holiday start a couple of weeks before. The towns and cities of Belarus put on holiday attire; illumination. New Year trees in the squares and New Year fairs add to the holiday mood. The culmination of the festivity is the December 31 — January 1 night, when various concerts and open-air merrymaking take place, January 1 is an official holiday.

 

The Belarusian people are proud of the country's past and its traditional culture. The medieval festival "The White Caste" is arranged every spring in Minsk. The spectators can admire performances in costume, combats of knights and ancient music. Every summer, in Belarusian castles (in Lida, Mir, Novogrudok. Nesvizh, etc.) knights' tournaments and international medieval festivals take place. They attract spectators and participants from many countries of the world. During several days, you will have a chance to plunge into a romantic atmosphere of the Middle Ages, to contemplate a reconstruction of historic events, to become an apprentice of a craftsman, enjoy medieval music and »v on knights' armor or ladies' magnificent dresses.