Stay informed
Polesia Belarus

In our genealogical work, we are used to people being interested in their family tree and some family-related information, but sometimes the interests go further. One of our clients was collecting information about Jewish music in Stolin and the rest of the Polesia region for his book. And about a year later he shared with us the happy news that he had recorded a new piece and we would like to share his story and his music with you. We know that many visitors to our website are also descendants of Jews who once lived in a beautiful corner of the world, Polesia, and perhaps sang the same songs.

Yale Strom:

“When I was growing up in Detroit, Michigan (until the age of 12), my father told me many stories about his “Stolin” Khasidic roots from the town of Stolin in Belarus. He was proud that they sang with so much religious fervor and that they had so many beautiful melodies that they sang on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Talking about Stolin and the Jewish history there made me very curious, and eventually in 2005 I traveled with my father to Minsk, Pinsk and Stolin and then crossed over to Ukraine. My father, who spoke mostly Yiddish until the age of 5, started speaking Yiddish again because the older Jews he met in Minsk and Pinsk spoke Yiddish but not English. I gave a concert in Minsk at the Jewish Community Center and then in a house in Stolin where a Jew who was originally born in Poland during the Second World War lived.
In 2018, I traveled to Belarus again with my daughter, where she visited the Jewish camp outside of Minsk and we played Jewish music for the campers. She also went to the forest and saw the Holocasut memorial commemorating the murdered Jews of Stolin, including our Hoberman cousins. Stolin khasidic songs (nigunim) are still a proud part of my klezmer band’s repertoire.”

Yale Strom presented his album ‘The Wolf and the Lamb – Live at the Shakh’ on July 28, 2023.
This song is called ‘Bride’s Lament’ – the tune comes from Belarusian Polesia : https://s.disco.ac/qmuhlyponmer

Oy poshla p zamushzh ya
U chuzhyu U chuzhnyu
U chuzhyu U chuzhnyu
U velikyu U semyu

I married a man
From very far away
And I moved to his place
Foreign for me
I moved to live with his big family.

Semya siade vyacherets
A mene molodu
A mene molodu
Posilayuts’ po vodu

His family is having a dinner
And they send me to bring water

Yak po vodu ishla
Drobny s’lyozy lila
Ya za drobny s’liozy
Ya krinitsy ne nashla

I went to bring them water
I was crying
And because of my tears
I couldn’t find the spring.

a krinitstu nayshla
Taye vody nabrala
Taye vody nabrala
Polovinu vedra

I found the spring
And I took water
The half of a bucket

Pokiz u hatu prishla
To slizami dolila

I took water
Half of a bucket
And during my walk from the forest
I completed the bucket with my tears.

A yak u hatu prishla
V sinyah postavila
Day posluhayu ya
Shtoy hovorits’ semya

I went from the forest
Put the water near the door
I wanted to hear
What they were speaking about.

Yale Strom:

“This folk song comes from the Polesian region, a marshy forested region bordering the Pripyat River in Southern Belarus (Brest, Pinsk, Gomel), Northern Ukraine (Rivne, Zhytomyr), Russia (Bryansk) and partly Poland (Lublin). This particular folk song comes from the Pripyat basin that included large Jewish communities in the cities of Pinsk, Stolin and Dovid-Horodok (Ukr.: Davyd-Haradok).
I was always interested in this region because my paternal grandparents and other family members came from all three of these cities. The Poleshuks/Polesians’ were the largest minority living in this region before the Holocaust. Their language is related to Ukrainian, Belarusian and Ruthenian. It was common for the klezmer musicians to play for the Polesian celebrations and learn to speak their language. This song comes from the ethnographers Irina Maziuk, Mihail Leschenki and Serhei Dolgushev, who recorded Grecho Liubou Vasilieuna (b. 1939) in her village Cerebezhov, located near Stolin, in 2013. The lyrics would normally be written in Cyrillic. The arrangement here has Aliaksandr Yasinski reciting the lyrics. He grew up in Baranavichi. His grandmother Sofia was born and lived in the village of Duboe (in Polesia, 50 miles northwest from Stolin) and she spoke Poleshuk to Yasinski when he was a young boy. “

Yale Strom is planning a big tour for this year. Perhaps some of our readers have the opportunity to help organize the concert(s), it would be greatly appreciated.

Should you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Yale Strom directly using the contact details below:
www.yalestrom.com
yitztyco@aol.com

And if you have a story of your own that you would like to share with us, please drop us an email at info@belarus-reisen.ch

17/01/2024
Morning fog in the field Belarus

The Berezinskiy Biosphere Reserve, the pearl of Belarus, is the oldest natural ecosystem and unites 1348 bogs. Traditionally, in October all natural processes slow down and the living world gradually falls into sleep. “Veles Night” in the Slavic tradition is a holiday of transition from autumn to winter and is celebrated on the night from 30th to 31st of October. Our ancestors believed that at this time the border between the world of people (Yavi) and the world of spirits (Navi) becomes especially thin, and the guardian of this transition is Veles – the patron saint of livestock, wealth, as well as knowledge and wisdom.

The guests of the ancient Slavic holiday “Veles Night” in the Berezinski Reserve, which will take place on 28-29 October, will plunge into the mysterious world of spirits and ancient deities, make a journey into the mystical world along the “path of myths”, uncover the secrets of Belarusian mythology, learn how to make a traditional doll – amulet, as well as taste aromatic herbal concoctions around the campfire in the forest glade.

02/10/2023
carousels at the festival in Minsk Belarus

Extending summer with Vulitsa Ezha (Streetfood from Belarusian): the final picnic of the season will be held on 16-17 September.

The eighth season of Vulitsa Ezha has already made a splash with two city picnics in the Botanical Garden, where everyone ate, drank, had fun and learnt a lot of new things. We want to hold summer longer – and it is possible. The final picnic will be held on 16-17 September in a truly velvety atmosphere. The organisers propose to spend the summer later, as loud as ever, and meet the warm autumn together.

As usual, the festival will be held in the Botanical Garden of Minsk. The opening hours of all events from 12:00 to 22:00.

About 20 partner zones of entertainment and activities are waiting for you: master classes, interactive activities for adults and children, competitions, tastings, music and dancing to the best rhythms of different styles, bright photo zones and gifts. But the main element will remain a large food court with unusual and very tasty dishes: you will definitely like it.

Besides, the open-air cinema will show your favourite pictures and cartoons on the big screen amidst the beautiful nature of the Botanical Garden. You can bring your own plaids or make sure you have a comfortable seat.

Come to the picnic, it will be fun!

07/09/2023
Minsk in the twilight Belarus

On the second weekend of September Minsk will celebrate its 956th anniversary. In the Year of Peace and Creation, all the events will be united by the theme “The Heart of Belarus – my native Minsk”. The main large-scale festivities will last two days – 9 and 10 September.

Traditionally, the cultural, sporting, educational and spiritual potential of the capital will be creatively presented at venues in every district of Minsk.

Starting from September 8, the festivities will be held in the historic part of the city. In particular, the sites in the Upper Town, near the Palace of Sports and at the architectural and sculptural complex “Minsk – Hero-City” near the Museum of the Great Patriotic War will be used.

The main events will be held on 9 and 10 September. The festive programme will be opened on Saturday at 11:00 with the solemn ceremony of laying flowers at the stele “Minsk – Hero-City” with the participation of the city authorities. After that, the festive sites will start working.

From 12:00 to 17:00 near the Palace of Sports there will be a sports ground “International Olympic Day.

The green area between the stela “Minsk – Hero-City” and the Palace of Sports will host “Minsk of old times”. Opening hours: 9 September from 12:00 to 21:30, 10 September from 9:00 to 12:00. Different epochs of the capital’s life will be presented here: from the Middle Ages to the Second World War. The guests will get acquainted with the formation of Minsk, the Napoleonic invasion, the First World War and the Great Patriotic War.

At the same time on the territory of the Upper Town from 12:00 to 17:00 will be held the Republican Festival of National Cultures – about 20 nationalities will present their cuisine and creativity.

The main event on 10 September will undoubtedly be the Minsk Half Marathon. Although there will be a lot of other activities in the city without it.

From 18:00 to 23:00, a concert will be held near the Palace of Sports. You can see the festive fireworks at 23:00.

Everyone will be able to find something interesting for himself at the holiday. Come to Minsk and celebrate the birthday of Minsk together with us!

17/08/2023

The History Park “Grand Duchy of Sula” is the first interactive history park in Belarus, which is located on the picturesque shore of the Sula Lake just 49 kilometres from Minsk.

This place can be called in different ways: principality, estate, interactive history park, museum… Here they speak the native Belarusian language and show how our ancestors lived from common people to nobility.

The complex is arranged in such a way that the main path takes you chronologically through events in history. It is said to be the path of time. Walking along it, you will come across buildings restored and built from scratch, which belong to different epochs of Belarus. Everything starts with the Stone Age objects and ends with the Lenski family estate.

Thus, there are seven separate areas on the territory of the complex: the area of ancient man, the area of ancient Belarusian cults and beliefs, the lands of the Viking Age, the Middle Ages and the gentry, the Belarusian village and the Lenski estate and park complex.

In the Viking village there is one of the main and most impressive sights of the park. It is a ship, or rook, or drakkar. It is an exact replica of a Scandinavian ship. The guests of “Sula” can ride on this drakkar.

In the medieval era zone you can visit the museum of pottery art or the museum of education, see how the water mill looked like from outside and inside.

The Belarusian miasteczko (a historical type of urban settlement similar to a market town) is rich in tasty and useful places. There is a bakery, a pharmacy “Zyolki”, a museum of bread and cheese, a weaving workshop, a Jewish shop, a Shapovalskaya hut, a museum of beekeeping, a museum “Batleika”. Thus, in the museum of bread and cheese you can buy fresh products, in the pharmacy – medicinal collections, in the tavern – strong drinks.

The manor and park complex will surprise you with a Masonic wing, a museum-estate of the Lenski family and the “Holy Family” chapel.

There is a beach area, pavilions, children’s playgrounds on the territory. Also at the beach in good weather on weekends and public holidays there is a grill-zone with several barbecues. You can have a snack or a full meal in one of the restaurants. Also, no one is forbidden to bring your own food into the park.

Come to the park and enjoy your holidays and Belarusian history!

17/07/2023
Vulitsa Ezha street food festival Minsk Belarus

The city’s favourite summer picnic is fast approaching! The eighth season of Vulitsa Ezha will start with the first bright festival on 24-25 June and will traditionally take place among the beautiful nature of the Botanical Gardens in Minsk. More than 50 eating places on the food court, over 200 original dishes and dozens of entertainments will be waiting for you in just a week.

VULITSA EZHA is no longer just a festival, but the biggest gastronomic community in Belarus. The best street food projects and top chefs gather here, and guests learn about local gastronomic trends.

There will be a large family zone with entertainment for children 0+: carousel, play complexes, master classes, drawing and modeling, animators, water make-up, construction sites, free zone for creativity, board games, games with animators.

There will also be a chance to see and buy handmade works of art: exclusive homeware, decorations and accessories.

Now there is no need to leave the city to get full of energy and have a great rest: you can just come to our picnic with your loved ones and have a carefree time. Come, you won’t regret it!

16/06/2023
homemade preserves Belarus

In Soviet times, vegetables, fruit, salads and compotes were put in jars for the winter to preserve the harvest.

It was all the more difficult to get fresh fruit and vegetables in winter. Food was in short supply. But to feed a family was necessary every day. So many families made their own preserves: in the autumn – preserves for the winter, at the beginning of winter – sauerkraut, in winter – dumplings.

Every Soviet housewife considered it her duty to make preserves. The more the better. The Internet, where one could look up recipes, did not yet exist. There were handwritten recipes for baked goods. Cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, salads, juices, jams, compotes… From one’s own garden or bought – it did not matter. Of course, there were also canned vegetables on sale, but our own, homemade ones, tasted much better!

Nowadays, the tradition of making homemade preserves is slowly becoming a thing of the past. On the one hand, you can buy all kinds of preserved food in the shops. On the other hand, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables all year round, which many people think is much tastier and healthier.

Nevertheless, many housewives still make preserves for the winter, paying tribute to habit and tradition. And many family members long for homemade preserved cucumbers or tomatoes in winter or early spring.

03/05/2023
Radunitsa, Commemoration Day of the Departed Belarus

On Tuesday of the second week after Easter, the Orthodox Church celebrates Radonitsa, a day of special commemoration of the departed, the first after the feast of Easter. In 2023, Radunitsa falls on 25 April. In Orthodox churches on Radunitsa, a funeral liturgy and memorial service are traditionally held.

It is a tradition of the Orthodox Church to celebrate Radunitsa on the ninth day after Easter. It is believed that the soul of the deceased goes to heaven after this time.

This day has its origins in the pagan tradition: in pre-Christian times, this event was associated with the cult of ancestors. Etymologically, the word “Radunitsa” is derived from the words “kin” and “joy”.

On this day people come to the graves of their relatives. Every year on this holiday more than a million Belarusians go to cemeteries. The Orthodox Church has a negative attitude to meals at cemeteries, especially alcohol. It is better to refuse eating at cemeteries, as these traditions are associated with paganism. The most important thing on this day is to pray for the deceased. Also on this day there is no need to weep; Radunitsa is a holiday not of sadness and grief, but of joy of eternal life, the victory of Jesus Christ over death.

In Belarus, Tuesday, on which Orthodox Radunitsa falls, is a day off. As a rule, there are four days off – Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It is decided to postpone the working days and get one working Saturday.

25/04/2023
Easter cakes Happy Easter Belarus

The g4 tours team would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter!
May there be a lot of light, kindness and peace in your families!

07/04/2023
Church of St. George the Victorious in Halshany Golshany Belarus

After the great festivities of Maslenitsa, Orthodox believers begin Great Lent (Great Fast). Great Lent precedes the feast of the Holy Resurrection of Christ, Easter. In 2023 it will last from February 27 to April 15.

There is an opinion that the Great Lent is established in memory of the fasting of Christ, who spent 40 days in the desert without water and food after His Baptism.

Great Lent is the main and most austere fasting period. During the entire period of Great Lent the food is to be simple but varied, without unnecessary spices, sweets and salt. Meat, dairy products and eggs are replaced by plant food. Vegetables, fruit and porridges are preferred. The food is prepared only with water and without oil. There is a calendar that divides the fast into weeks, and each week with specific dishes.

The most austere weeks of Lent are considered to be the first and Holy Week. During these days diligent Christians eat nothing more hearty than a piece of bread and water. Not everyone is able to achieve this. The food during Lent needs to be handled sensibly. It is said that you should rely on your own strength, health and the blessing of the priest with whom you confess. He knows and feels your spiritual state like no other.

Fasting is not a diet. The purpose of Lent is not a ban on cottage cheese or sausages, but prayers, good deeds, fighting against your own sins and repentance.

03/03/2023