Some languages are able to cross national borders, becoming a bridge that facilitates understanding between people of different cultures. Other languages, on the other hand, slumber in old books and are only spoken in remote areas where the wave of globalization has not yet arrived. This fate primarily befalls languages that are spoken by very few people. Fortunately, there are examples of how one’s own language can be cultivated even in small countries.
What is the fate of the Belarusian language? Many people will probably ask themselves one question while reading this: why does such a language actually exist?
The Belarusian language is as old as its Slavic sister languages – Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, etc. The basis for the emergence and development of Slavic languages were the dialects of individual Slavic tribes, which began to settle in the vast territories of Central and Eastern Europe two thousand years ago. The Belarusian language is based on the dialects of three Slavic tribes: the Dregovich, Krivich and Radimich. In principle, the current grouping of Belarusian dialects actually reflects the earlier settlement of the mentioned tribes on Belarusian territory. The oldest manuscripts date back to the 10th-11th century. Today the Cyrillic alphabet is officially used, which has existed since the 14th century. In the 16th century the Latin alphabet appeared.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets coexisted. For a while the newspaper “Nasha Niva” printed texts on two graphic systems, so that all Belarusians could understand what was written, because the Catholics got used to the Latin alphabet, and the Orthodoxy understood only the Cyrillic alphabet. Nowadays, the Latin alphabet is used mainly in toponymy, in names of geographical places. For example, the names of metro stations in Minsk are written in Cyrillic and Belarusian, not in English.
You can read more in our article.
Coronavirus breaking news on 18th November 2020
As of November 18, 118,008 people with a positive test for COVID-19 were registered in Belarus, the Telegram channel of the Ministry of Health reports. The daily increase amounted to 1309 new cases.
As of November 18, 98,318 patients were recovered and discharged (1,000 per day), whose diagnosis of COVID-19 was previously confirmed. During the whole period of infection spread in the country 1067 patients with detected coronavirus infection died (seven people in the last 24 hours).
A total of 2,947,761 tests were conducted (30,681 per day).
"Dziady" is a day in memory of the ancestors. This day is celebrated by Christians since ancient times at the beginning of November. The word "Dziady" is translated from Belarusian into English as "grandfathers".
"Dziady" is one of the oldest traditions of Belarusians to remember the deceased ancestors. On this day it is still common to go to the cemetery. The day before, the graves are prepared and cleaned up at home to invite the spirits of the ancestors and to thank them for the care of the dead. Afterwards one washed oneself in the bath house (Banja) and left water and branches for the ancestors. Each family generously gave alms to beggars who were walking through the villages that day.
For "Dziady" even today special dishes are prepared, among others "Kutsja" (barley porridge with raisins), blini (pancakes), fried eggs and meat. Traditionally some of the food and drinks are kept in a special place for the dead.
On this day, families traditionally gather in cemeteries to look after the graves of their loved ones. In contrast to Haloween, this is a "cheerful" festival of remembrance of the dead.
Churches throughout the country hold services. The prayers for the dead can also be said at home. It is customary to remember all the good things a person has done in his life and to thank God for him and his deeds.
About other special holidays in Belarus you can read here.
The year 2020 was a real test for the tourism industry. Already in January we had planned to welcome a large number of tourists who wanted to get to know our country first hand, but at the end of February it became clear that this season would be difficult due to Corona.
So it was all the more surprising to receive an inquiry from Germany in early June for a two-week tour of Belarus. The arrival was planned for the end of August - beginning of September. Until the last moment we were not sure if our tourist Johannes would come, but luckily everything worked out.
Within 2 weeks we visited almost all of Belarus.
The program included excursions to the cities of Minsk, Vitebsk, Braslau, Grodno, and Brest; getting to know the provincial life in the cities of Glubokoe, Novogrudok, and Lida; visiting churches, places of worship, and mosques in Ivye and synagogues in Grodno, as well as the castles in Mir and Nesvizh. A lot of attention was also paid to nature. We hiked through the high moors in the "Krasny Bor" reserve in the north of the country, watched birds being caught and ringed by ornithologists, observed bisons in the natural environment in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, where we also picked mushrooms and met the dawn with hot tea and lard bread. Also a bicycle tour along the Braslav lakes inspired our guest. He also had the opportunity to get to know the life of the simple Belarusians, their everyday life, traditions, national cuisine and to taste one or the other home-made brandy. We were lucky to take part in the international festival of ethnocultural traditions "Call of Polesie", which took place in the south of the country on the bank of the river Pripyat. Time flew by and I am sure that our guest Johannes will not forget the joyful memories of his stay in our country so soon.
In order to preserve the traditional culture of the Belarusian region of Polesia, the Pripyatski National Park hosts the international ethnocultural festival „Call of Polesia".
This year the festival will be held on August 15.
The "Call of Polesia" Festival is held every year to preserve and transmit folk rituals, folklore and crafts of the locals.
The highlight of the festival is a concert of various folklore groups.
The festival is visited not only by Belarusians, but also by guests from Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Moldova. The organizers expect about 30,000 visitors this year despite Corona.
Part of the festival is the beauty contest "Beauties of Polesia", a military historical reconstruction "Battle of Epochs" and a photo exhibition "From the history of the festival". The festival ends with an evening show programme and festive fireworks.
If you do not have the opportunity to visit the festival this year, you can discover the unique and wonderful world of Belarusian Polesia during an excursion to the city of Turau (Turow). You can find more about our travel offers to the region here.
The history of Belarus is closely linked to the history of its neighbouring countries.
Over the centuries, the territory has been part of various state formations, including the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom, and the Russian Empire.
Therefore, in our genealogical researches we often find that necessary documents are kept in the archives of Vilnius (Lithuania), Warsaw (Poland), St. Petersburg (Russia), or Kiev (Ukraine).
This has encouraged us to look for partners in these countries, people who are not indifferent to history and the human destinies interwoven with it and who are very specifically engaged in the often small-scale research in archives.
So, we are pleased that we can now offer you genealogical research in Ukraine. Our historian Pjotr researches for you on site in Ukrainian archives and works closely with our historians in Belarus. You can find out more about our genealogy experts here. Join us in the search for your ancestors in Eastern Europe!
Belarus is the country of 1000 blue lakes and rivers, dense forests and lush meadows, rich flora and fauna. The preservation of natural wealth is given great attention in Belarus at the legislative level.
One of the specially protected areas is the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve. It is located about 120 kilometers northeast of Minsk and covers an area of 85 192 hectares. This year, the reserve celebrates its 95th anniversary.
The Berezina Biosphere Reserve combines forests, meadows and swamps, unique riparian landscapes of the Berezina River, many large and small rivers and clear lakes. In addition to a unique flora, the reserve is home to the five large European mammals - elk, bison, bear, wolf and lynx.
Numerous ecological paths have been created locally and great attention is paid to the protection of the diversity of plant and animal species.
Tourists are always welcome in the Berezinsky Reserve, and there are numerous guided tours and activities available locally.
You can learn more about the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve on our website.
On the night of 6-7 July, the Ivan Kupala (Kupalye) festival is celebrated in Belarus.
Kupalye is a pagan festival in honour of the summer solstice. Its counterparts can be found in almost all countries of the world.
On this day already in the morning women and girls went singing into fields and meadows to collect medicinal herbs.
The fire was given an important meaning. According to legend, Kupalye fire had a protective, magical and purifying power.
In the evening boys and girls danced and jumped over the fire. Young women made wreaths, let them down into the river and after moving the wreath they tried to tell their future destiny.
An amazing legend about the fern flower is connected with the Kupalye festival: Exactly at midnight the fern blooms for a few moments in fiery colors. People tried to find this fern flower, which promised that all wishes would come true.
To this day people in Belarus celebrate Kupalye and remember the old customs and traditions. You can read more about Belarusian holidays on our website.
Polotsk is one of the most beautiful cities in Belarus. It is situated in a picturesque place where the river Polota flows into the river Dvina.
The first documentary mention dates back to 862, when the town was the centre of the Polotsk Principality. It is the oldest city in Belarus and the oldest city of the Kiev Rus.
Polotsk became one of the centers of Christianity in the East Slavic countries. Euphrosyne of Polotsk was born here, the first woman in Belarus to be canonized.
Above the city rises the beautiful St. Sophia Cathedral, built between 1044 and 1066. Its construction underlined the strength and independence of the Principality of Polotsk. Similar buildings existed only in Kiev and Novgorod, the centres of the strongest Russian principalities.
The 1150th anniversary of Polotsk was part of the UNESCO calendar of historically memorable dates.
You can learn more about Polotsk on our website. We will be happy to take you to Polotsk on one of our trips to the most exciting regions of Belarus.
Today we would like to introduce you to the heart of g4 tours, our employees. Together we will explore new terrain for you, especially in these Corona times, to show you all facets of Belarus, online and offline. Our German and English speaking tour guides live all over the country. They are experts in history, nature, genealogy, religion, art and much more. From Minsk, Sveta and Tanja coordinate our tour offerings, Paul our founder is based in Cham, Switzerland. One thing unites us all, and that is the passion to explore Belarus off the beaten track together with you. Here you can learn more about our team and our personal travel highlights in Belarus.
Our guide Vania recently joined g4 tours. He has an extraordinary life story. He was a successful manager in a pharmaceutical company in Minsk for over a decade until he decided to renounce civilization and live in a remote estate in the wild part of the Nalibokski National Park. There he dedicated himself to zeidlery, a very old form of beekeeping. He is also a very precise observer and expert of the local flora and fauna. He has documented some of his most recent animal observations here.