Belarusian national holidays: what, where, when?
We all adore holidays and everyone values them in their own way, because these are the days of unity, large-scale shows, bright events and concerts. The time has come to tell you about the national holidays of Belarus: many of them will seem very familiar to you, while others will be thrown into frank shock.
VETLIVA plunges you into the world of incendiary days!
Belarusian national holidays
|New Year||1 January|
|Orthodox Christmas||7 January|
|Fatherland Defenders day of the Republic of Belarus||23 February|
|Women’s Day||8 March|
|Constitution Day||15 March|
|Day of Remembrance of the Chernobyl tragedy||26 April|
|Orthodox Easter||28 April (in 2019)|
|Labour Day (Worker’s Day)||1 May|
|Day of the National Emblem and Flag of Belarus||2nd Sunday in May|
|Commemoration Day (Radonitsa)||9th day after Orthodox Easter|
|Victory Day||9 May|
|Independence Day||3 July|
|October Revolution Day||7 November|
|Catholic Christmas||25 December|
When: 1 January
The classic Belarusian New Year includes a traditional holiday tree, a loud feast, noisy fun with friends and family, fireworks. And we definitely eat a lot of tangerines, Olivier salad with mayonnaise, drink champagne and watch “The Irony of Fate” (this is a favorite Soviet New Year comedy with the status of Frank Capra's “It's a Wonderful Life”) and concerts of the eighties and nineties. Every home is saturated with the spirit of celebration and happiness.
When: 7 January
Orthodox Christmas in Belarus has the character of not only a religious, but also a national holiday. The celebration begins the day before, on Christmas Eve, on the evening of the 6th of January.
Orthodox Christmas is celebrated, observing certain traditions; one of them is to refrain from eating after the morning service until the first evening star appears.
Christmas dinner is usually lean. One of the main dishes is traditional Belarusian kuttya: boiled wheat or rice grains, flavored with honey. We also drink a brew — a compote of dried fruit. Despite the traditional quiet family gatherings, young people with pleasure celebrate Kolyada: they dress up in fairy tale characters, sing songs and get for that candies. It's a bit like Halloween, but more religious.
Advice: celebration is held at home but there are always many concerts in honor of the holiday so you can visit them, for example, in Minsk.
Fatherland Defenders and Armed Forces day of the Republic of Belarus
When: 23 February
Historically, this is the day of the Red Army of the USSR, but after its collapse the holiday is still celebrated. This is a holiday of men, which are customary got presents from women. On February 23, big concerts and parades are held.
When: 8 March
Here, everything is a classic: International Women's Day is traditionally a day off, flowers are given to women (most often tulips) and gifts. Even in schools, children read poems and give cards to girls, and in shops men congratulate unfamiliar saleswomen: this always brings a smile.
Advice: the holiday is celebrated everywhere, in many cafes and restaurants, women are served meals for free, so do not forget to have a tasty meal. Do not get lost in the abundance of "tasty" places, just read our guide on this topic!
When: 15 March
The Belarusian Constitution has undergone many changes, starting with the history of the USSR to this day. It was finally approved (not counting some additions) on March 15, therefore it is celebrated on this day. No loud parades are held, but in all cities houses are decorated with national flags, and concerts are played on TV.
Advice: there are no special celebrations on this day, but you can visit the capital and see the richly decorated avenues and squares.
Day of Remembrance of the Chernobyl tragedy
When: 26 April
Honestly, it is not even a holiday, it is the day of memory of the victims of the most terrible tragedy associated with the explosion at a nuclear power plant. The release, which occurred due to the explosion on April 26, 1986, affected some areas of Belarus. As a result, a large number of people died and became seriously ill.
Advice: check our events page to get information about specific concerts on that day if you want to express condolences and imbued with the history of the terrible day.
When: 28 April (in 2019)
Easter is the main event of the year for all Christians and the biggest Orthodox holiday for the whole world and for Belarus particularly.
The week before Easter is full of worries: cooking food, cleaning the house, painting eggs. The obligatory ritual is the all-night vigil, during which the curds, tarts, and painted eggs are consecrated. At the festive table, one eats a piece of boiled egg first, and then everything else.
A peculiarity of Easter in Belarus is the walking of the volochybniki — guys and young men who glorified in their songs the farmer, his family, and his hard work. Each family, to which the people come, treats them with bread, lard, eggs, cheese. Volochybniki go all night, and in the morning they are staying at someone's house to celebrate. In Belarus, Catholic and Jewish Easter are also celebrated.
Advice: it is a holiday that is celebrated at home, so you can get to it if you have close friends and relatives in Belarus.
Labour Day (Worker’s Day)
When: 1 May
As in many other countries, the Day of Solidarity of Workers, despite its name, is a day off and is celebrated in a big way. In Belarus, this day marks the beginning of the May holidays and the start of the season of kebabs and outdoor recreation. Families and groups of friends go to nature to the lakes and rivers, set up tents, a brazier and make fires, sit until late night with guitars, sing songs and bathe in still cold water. In Brest one of the famous parks is called May 1, and it is on this day that many attractions and cafes provide free entrance!
Advice: we advise you to pay attention to country houses and cottages, where you can celebrate May 1 in the classic Belarusian style.
Day of the National Emblem and Flag of Belarus
When: 2nd Sunday in May
Purely Belarusian holiday. State symbols are represented by a flag, a coat of arms and a hymn, and the day of the celebration was chosen in 1998. The emblem, flag and anthem of the state are the main symbols of independence, conveying the historical and cultural heritage of our people, emphasizing the national spirit and dignity of Belarusian citizens. They reflect certain aspects of the nation and state, giving an idea of the country's historical path and its national values.
Advice: there are no special places, but the parade and the concert are held on the square in Minsk, which is called the Square of the National Flag.
Commemoration Day (Radonitsa)
When: 9th day after Orthodox Easter
A very specific holiday that Día de los Muertos in Mexico reminds many people about: it is the day of commemoration of the dead, which is celebrated after the Orthodox Easter.
Back in the middle of the 20th century, Belarusians used to bake drachena (egg pancakes) and cakes, cooked porridge and kutia, painted eggs in peels and brewed beer. Then they went to the cemetery, invited the priest for a memorial service, left sweets on the graves, commemorated the dead.
In the evening, the holiday becomes more large-scale: everyone plays "bitki" (Easter game, during which two people take painted boiled eggs and beat them until the first crack), sing songs, and dance. From here came the phrase: “Radonitsa is crying until the dinner and dancing after it”.
Advice: this is a spend-at-home holiday, so you can get to it only at the invitation of family or friends.
When: 9 May
The largest military public holiday of Belarus dedicated to the victory over the fascist invaders in the Great Patriotic War. This is a day off, during which all the cities are decorated, many people wear the Soviet uniform, old military songs are played everywhere, parades and concerts are held in the cities, fireworks are fired.
Despite this scale, for many it is also a day of grief, so traditionally there is a Minute of silence before the processions.
When: 3 July
Another big holiday dedicated to the liberation of Belarus during the Second World War. All the same salutes, parades of military equipment, large concerts and salutes will be waiting for you on this day. Go to Minsk, as it is here in the city center you can see the holiday in all its glory.
VETLIVA reminds: the celebration will last more than one hour, and you can visit all local holidays only if you stay in Minsk for a day or two. So do not forget to choose the perfect accommodation for this day.
When: 6-7 July
This holiday, dedicated to the summer solstice, is perhaps the most unusual thing that you can see in the current calendar of events in Belarus. The night of Ivan Kupala is filled with rites associated with water, fire and herbs. The main part of the Kupala ceremonies is performed at night. Toward sunset, on high ground or near rivers, clearing fires were kindled. Sometimes fire was mined in the ancient way — by rubbing a tree against a tree.
The Belarusians set up a pole on which a wheel was mounted on top in the center of the Kupala fire. Sometimes a horse skull, called "vidma", is put on the wheel and knocked into the fire, where it burned; after which the youth have fun, sing and dance around the fire.
In Belarus, old unwanted things are collected in all the yards taken to the place chosen for the celebration (edge, clearing, high bank of the river), where they are later burned.
On the night of Ivan Kupala, “narrowed” are chosen and marriage rites are performed: jumping over a fire holding hands, exchanging wreaths (a wreath is a symbol of girlhood), searching for a fern flower (“paparats-kvetka”) for good luck and bathing in the morning dew. The treat consists of cottage cheese (dumplings), cheese, flour porridge (kulagi), unleavened bread (babki) with pounded hemp seed, kvass and kholodnik, fried eggs on lard (vereshchaga).
Bathing is also obligatory: it is believed that on this day all the water becomes free from evil. Also on this day, many herbs acquire magical properties and it is possible to collect them only on the Kupala night.
Advice: celebrations take place in the forests near rivers and lakes, but you can go to Dudutki, that also organizes grandiose ritual nights on this day.
October Revolution Day
When: 7 November
Every year on November 7 in Belarus is celebrated a nationwide holiday — the Day of the October Revolution, which is an official off-time in the country.
On this day in Minsk a traditional ceremony is held annually — laying flowers at the Lenin monument on Independence Square. Representatives of the Communist Party of Belarus, veterans of the Great Patriotic War, as well as all concerned citizens take part in this action.
Advice: memorable meetings, festive concerts, as well as educational and scientific events are held in the capital of Belarus on this day. There are also tours of the memorable places of the October Revolution. One of these places — the house-museum of the First Congress of the RSDLP.
When: 25 December
This important holiday for all Christians coincided with the ancient traditions of celebrating the winter solstice. Therefore, there are still many pagan customs among the people. So, among today's Christmas traditions a special place is occupied by cheerful folk festivals, which last from December 25 and right up to the old New Year (13 January).
Also Christmas services are held in all Catholic churches.
For Christmas, housewives must decorate the house and cook festive dishes, first lean, because fasting lasts until Christmas night. In the feast itself, after the church, people continue to celebrate at home and lay a table on which, according to tradition, there must be kutya and many meat dishes for breaking fast. On the tablecloth or under it put a little hay, as a symbol of the fact that Jesus was born in the manger, on the table should be a candle symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem.
Advice: the holiday is usually held with the family, but you can attend one of the grandiose concerts in the cities of the country.
Belarusian holidays: exciting shows in every home
Thus, we told you about national holidays in Belarus. Besides them, there are still many professional events, as well as borrowed traditions, but these holidays are especially loved and appreciated in the country. Belarusians celebrate everything magnificently and in a big way, so it will be very interesting to visit the country on one of these days.
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