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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.

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.

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!

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.

Maslenitsa blini pancakes Belarus

From February 20 to 26, 2023, Orthodox believers in Belarus celebrate the Maslenitsa week. Maslenitsa precedes the Great Lent. Lent is the longest fast in Christianity and the period preceding the main Orthodox holiday, Easter.

Maslenitsa is a bright and colourful celebration at the end of winter which brings joy to little ones and adults alike. Games, songs, dances, merry laughter and noise are its main signs. The name “Maslenitsa” is associated with the word “butter” (maslo) in the Russian language. Traditionally in this week was forbidden to eat meat, but we can eat milk and dairy products.

Butter and cheese – these are the obligatory attributes of the holiday. Besides, what is the Maslenitsa week without blini (pancakes)? During the Maslenitsa week the blini acquired a truly royal value – they tried to eat them every day. Melted butter, sour cream, honey, jam, fish, caviar, cabbage – everyone wrapped everything he liked in blini. Except of meat, of course.

During the Maslenitsa until now in cities and towns there are held festivals, many blini with all sorts of fillings are baked. The Maslenitsa traditions are aimed at saying goodbye to winter and welcoming the spring. The Maslenitsa festivities culminate with the burning of a straw doll at a bonfire, accompanied by joyful cries and songs.

On 24-26 February in all the districts of Minsk, Maslenitsa markets will be organized, blini will be baked and spring will be welcomed.

Ice hole at the baptism of Jesus Belarus

On 19 January, Orthodox believers celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. Baptism is considered to be one of the oldest holidays in Christian culture. It is associated with the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.

The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus is closely connected with Jesus Christ’s earthly life – baptism, which was carried out in the Jordan River by prophet John the Baptist. The second name of the feast is Epiphany. This name refers to the miracle that took place at the baptism of Christ: the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended from heaven, and a voice from heaven called Jesus a son.

During the Epiphany masses and baptismal bathing in ice-holes are held all over Belarus. For this purpose special ice-holes in the form of a cross are made in the ponds. It is popularly believed that bathing in ice-hole gives purifying power for soul and body.

However, ice-hole bathing remains a voluntary event for the faithful. For the Christians during the Epiphany, the most important thing is to attend the service in the church, confess, receive Holy Communion and take the Epiphany water.

One of the main traditions is to take holy water. People come to churches with empty containers, and then the holy water is stored for the whole year. This water can be used to bless one’s home, and many people use it to heal their ailments. There is an omen that not only the water, but also the snow on this day has healing powers – you can rub your hands and face with it to regain health.

As on other church holidays, on Epiphany one should not quarrel, swear, gossip or speak evil words. On Epiphany we should not clean, sweep away rubbish or throw away food. This is considered to be bad omens and considered to be unlucky.

Washing is especially banned. At Epiphany all water has magical properties, and it is sinful to waste it on such trifles.

Town decorated for Christmas Belarus

The g4 tours team wishes all Orthodox believers a Merry Christmas!
We wish you happiness, faith and love. Believe in miracles and may God protect you and your families!

Merry Christmas snow forest in Belarus

Dear visitors,

we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We are happy to be there for you again next year and would be pleased if you continue to be interested in Belarus and its people. Nevertheless, we will continue to be competently represented on site for you in these difficult times. We wish all of us more peace in 2023.

Straw weaving in Belarus

Belarus’ straw weaving has been inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This decision was taken by UNESCO on 1 December 2022. Straw handicraft made by our masters has no analogues in the world and is one of the distinctive forms of spiritual values and artistic traditions of the Belarusians.

The nation has been weaving straw in Belarus for ages. East Slavs began to use straw as weaving material in the period of agricultural expansion at the turn of the II-I millennium BC. This craft has its origins in ancient rites associated with the cult of bread and fertility.

To the end of the ХХth century there was a real blossoming of Belarusian straw weaving. In 2003 and 2005 an international festival of straw art was held in Minsk.

Women predominate among artisans. Men mainly create traditional items in the technique of spiral weaving: oversized containers, men’s headdresses, ritual Christmas masks, etc. The craftsmen offer their straw products at fairs, festivals, exhibitions and in craft and souvenir shops.

Straw weaving is an expressive phenomenon of the Belarusian culture. The artistic practice of straw weaving remains a living tradition that is continuously enriched. There is a system of teaching of the craft, transfer of knowledge about technology of processing of the material, continuity of its artistic traditions.

The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, chairs of ethnology and folklore of leading universities in the country, as well as regional centres of folklore are engaged in identification, study and promotion of straw weaving.

Belarusian straw has become the fifth national element in the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage lists (along with the Christmas rite “Christmas Tzar” in the village of Semezhovo, the celebration in honour of the icon of the Mother of God Budslavskaya in Budslau, Minsk region, the spring rite “Yuryevsky Round Table” in the village of Pogost in Gomel region and the culture of forest bee-keeping in Belarus by example of Lelchitsy district of Gomel region.

Family tree genealogical tree Belarus

In the work for our clients for whom we do genealogical research, we often use the concept of “patronym” when referring to the name of a particular ancestor of a client. We claim that thanks to the patronymic (middle) name we know the name of the ancestor’s father, such as Anna Lukiyanovna Zelonka means Anna, daughter of Lukiyan Zelonka.
In response to our reports, we often receive messages like this one, from our dear customer Scarlett.

“Hi Sveta,
Ok, it is all very confusing. I will try to find a video or something that can help with names over there! I don’t understand how their middle name becomes added to and shows that they are the children of someone exactly. The “Lukiyanovna” is very confusing, as it doesn’t tell me how that’s required or is part of her maiden name. If my daughter had to take my name as a middle name and then add “-ovna” she would be Rayna Scarlettovna. Haha”

This message also made me laugh because it reminded me of when I was a little kid and faced the patronymic phenomenon and had the same questions.

It is quite understandable that the East Slavic naming customs may seem confusing to our customers, as they are very different from how names are formed in their respective country. So we decided to explain what this phenomenon is and how it works.

Everyone in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus is supposed to have a tripartite name which consists of First Name, Patronymic Name and Surname.

The patronymic name of both boys and girls is based on the first name of the father and is written in all legal and identity documents. Single mothers may give their children any patronym.

The patronymic always follows the first name.

The patronymic is formed by a combination of the father’s name and suffixes. The suffixes -ович (-ovich), -евич (-evich) are used for a son, -овна (-ovna), -евна (-evna) for a daughter. For example, if the father’s name was Иван (Ivan), the patronymic will be Иванович (Ivanovich) for a son and Ивановна (Ivanovna) for a daughter, if the father’s name was Андрей (Andrey), the patronymic will be Андреевич (Andreyevich) for a son and Андреевна (Andreyevna) for a daughter.

The patronymic name is obligatory when addressing an elder person, a person of higher social stance and/or on special occasions such as business meetings. For example when a pupil addresses a teacher, he/she is obliged to use both first and patronymic names – Russian: Марья Ивановна, могу я спросить…, lit. ‘Marya Ivanovna, may I ask…’. Not using patronymic names in such situations is considered offensive. As a rule, parents of students also use this form, communicating with teachers.

Let us turn to history.
The connection of a person with his clan was customary to show in ancient times and not only among the Slavic peoples. Mostly it was expressed by mentioning the father in the name of the person.

The first form of patronymic used by the Slavic peoples sounded like this: Vladimir, the son of Gleb. If the question was about representatives of the princely family, the name indicated almost the entire genealogy: Prince Vladimir of Kiev, for example, was called thus: Vladimir son of Svyatoslav, grandson of Vsevolod, great grandson of Oleg, great grandson of Svyatoslav, great great grandson of Yaroslav, descendant of the great Vladimir.
Later the patronymic acquired the form formed from the name of the father with the help of the suffix -ich. For example, Vladimir Sviatoslavich.

The modern form of patronymic formation with suffixes -ovich, -evich entered into use in the 15th century, but, initially, this form of patronymic was used only in relation to representatives of the princely family and the higher estates.

The rest of the estates used either the old form, such as Foma the son of Petr, or used the suffix -ov or -ev. For example, Foma Petrov, Yakov Grigoriev. In this variant, the patronymic is like an answer to the question, “Whose are you?” – I am Petr’s (son).
In the olden days, patronymics could be formed not only from the name of the father, but also from the name of the mother. Probably this happened when the child had no father, or for some reason the head of the family was a woman. Today, the patronymic is given only by the name of the father.

Despite globalization and unification of language norms, the Slavic tradition of using patronymics persists both in official speech and in everyday life. For example, colleagues in informal settings may call each other only by patronymic, and using a shorter form with suffixes -ich, -ych (as our ancestors did): Kuzmich, Palych.
This specific feature of Slavic names is very helpful in genealogical searches.

For example, from the birth entry of Nadezhda (see original excerpt from the birth entry below) we know that her father’s name was Andrey Petrov Korotyshevsky.
The patronym “Petrov” means that Andrey’s father’s name was Petr (Petr+ suffix -ov). This information gives the clue to the next step of the research. We need to look for a birth record of Andrey Korotyshevsky, whose father’s name was Petr. Since we have no other information about Andrey, such as the exact date of birth, this information is crucial for identifying the correct birth entry of Andrey Korotyshevsky. As male relatives usually lived in the same area and civil records usually contain several people whose names and surnames match. In this case, it is easier to find the correct entry if you know the name of the father.

Extract from the archive Belarus

Extract from the archive | Photo: Svetlana Abehtikova

Excerpt from the birth entry
(Birth records)
No. 52 28 May/3 June
Names of the child: Nadezhda.

Title, first name, patronymic and surname and religion of parents: Andrey Petrov Korotyshevsky, a nobleman of the village of Kozhan-Gorodok serving as conductor of the Luninets brigades, and his lawful wife Olga Albinova, both Orthodox Christians.