Christmas Holidays

nov god

Father Frost’s Residence
Christmas Eve in churches
The Bathleyka Theatre traditions
Christmas Entertainment
Ski Resorts
Belarusian Christmas Souvenirs

How Christmas is celebrated in Belarus
Historically, at different times Belarus was a Catholic country as well as an Orthodox country, many families today are mixed according to their religious beliefs, that’s why Belarusians often celebrate Christmas twice. Preparing for the Catholic Christmas starts with the period of Advent, the time of prayerful fast, when it should be thought of purifying of soul and make doings of charity. Children wait impatiently the 19th of December, the Day of Saint Mikalay (Santa Claus), who brings presents. On this day in the Catholic churches children play Christmas performances and take a fruit and sweets’ festive table. At children’s homes the presents from Santa are waiting them under the Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve Belarusian Catholics gather their families at the festive table with 12 meatless meals (according to the quantity of the Apostles). The table is covered with white tablecloth (the symbol of purity), underneath of which is put a cluster of hay (the symbol of Christ’s birth in simple corral). On the table there are should be on one table set more than members of the family, for God in the image of a stranger may knock at the door and ask for come in. In the centre of the festive table Belarusians light a candle, the head of the family reads a prayer and then shares with every family member the oplatka (Lenten Christmas bread). During the process of sharing everyone wishes each other the good and God's blessings for the coming year. Traditional Christmas dishes in Belarus are porridge with raisings, jelly and dried fruits. After the festive dinner the whole family goes to a church for the Christmas Mass. The Christmas period lasts till the 6th of January and is accompanied by the carols.

Orthodox Christmas Eve is on the 6th of January. The preparing time is very similar with the Catholic traditions in Belarus, but with the difference that the festive table abounds with meat dishes and is had after the Christmas Mass. Orthodox Christians do not celebrate the Day of Santa Claus, but since the Soviet times Belarusian children wait for Father Frost and Snow-maiden (the images of Russian fairy-tales), who are main characters of the coming New Year. The Residence of Father Frost in Belarus is situated in Belavezhskaya Pushcha, the most ancient European forest. December and January are the best time for visiting Father Frost there. During the Christmas period the Belarusian Post Office offers the services of Christmas and New Year parcels for children, that are delivered by the costumed as Father Frost postmen. This service came to taste for parents, whose children write letters to Father Frost and wait for their wishes to come true.

Since the 16th century Belarusian Christmas traditions were known for street performances of the Batleyka theatre (it comes from the main Christmas city’s name “Bethlehem”). They were the plays with the help of puppets in special wooden boxes, that told people the story about the birth of Jesus Christ. Nowadays the tradition of the Batleyka theatre is being reconstructed in Belarus, and it is a must see show here during your Christmas Holidays tour.

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