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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.

The Blue Lakes national park Narаchanski Narochansky Belarus

Belarus is often called blue-eyed because of the large number of lakes on its territory. Their total number exceeds 10 thousand.

“The Blue Lakes” is a whole natural complex, a hilly and lake preserve, one of the most beautiful places in Belarus. The Blue Lakes are situated in the north-western part of the country near the border with Lithuania, in the Myadel district. The system includes a total of 15 lakes, formed as a result of the melting of a glacier 10 thousand years ago. Large streams of water washed out millions of tons of sand, forming high hills and deep pits, which were filled with groundwater and meltwater from the glacier. This explains the hilly topography of the area.

The Blue Lakes are situated among pine forests with a small amount of spruce, birch and maple. It is possible to stay in the reserve only on the eco-trails in the national park “Narаchanski (Narochansky)” intended for walks. There are routes for 4 and 7 kilometres.

During the walk along the eco-trails you can see three lakes: Dead Lake, Glublya and Glubelka. Lakes Glubelka and Glubelka with high mineralization and turquoise tint of water are unique in their beauty, surrounded by pine forests and high hills, with arranged beaches and places for rest. The Dead Lake is of karstic origin, a pit filled with underground waters formed by the failure of a layer of earth consisting of soft limestone rocks. The uniqueness of the lake lies in the fact that its upper layer of 24 m is fresh water, while the lower one is 300 m deep and contains hydrogen sulphide. The water in such lakes has not been mixed for centuries. According to legend, Vikings were buried here. Along the shoreline of the Dead Lake the drosera grows, this plant catches insects and feeds itself with everything it needs.

The Stracha river runs through these beautiful places which are sometimes called the Belarusian Switzerland. The winding riverbed and rapids give it a special beauty. In any case, the walk will be very beautiful.

Visit the unique blue lakes in Belarus and charge yourself with energy and unforgettable impressions!

Catholic cemetery in autumn Belarus

About 15% of the population of Belarus belong to the Catholic faith. Traditionally, Catholics predominate among believers in Grodno region, but in the rest of the country there is also a fairly developed network of Catholic parishes.

All Saints’ Day is a Catholic holiday celebrated annually on 1 November. The holiday commemorates all the saints revered by the Church, as well as those who have remained unknown during their lifetime.

Saints have been commemorated since the first centuries of Christianity: first the apostles, then martyrs who died for the sake of the faith, important figures in the church, righteous rulers, and venerable monks.

The history of All Saints’ Day goes back to Pagan times – it is thought that the feast can be traced back to an ancient Celtic pagan celebration called Samhain, in which people honoured the dead.

According to one version, the Church instituted a Christian holiday on the same date to eradicate paganism – since ancient times, Halloween is celebrated on 31 October, a day when people, dressing up as devils, try to scare off the dark forces with boisterous merriment.

The holiday was originally celebrated on May 13th, when Pope Boniface IV established All Saints’ Day in VII century. Pope Gregory III changed the date of the feast in the eighth century by consecrating the chapel of St Peter’s Cathedral in honour of All Saints on 1 November.

All Saints’ Day in the Catholic Church has the highest rank of celebration. In some countries, the holiday is a non-working holiday. And November 2 is celebrated as a day of special commemoration of the dead.

The faithful on All Saints’ Day, according to tradition, necessarily attend mass. Traditionally, Catholics also visit the graves of their loved ones and pray for the deceased on the feast day.

Golden autumn Belarus

Beloved by residents and guests of Minsk, “Listapad” (leaf fall) film Festival will be held for the 28th time. In 2022 the festival will take place on November 4-11. This autumn the festival will be held under the motto “True Values”. The films in the 2022 program are dedicated to the themes of peace, preservation of the Earth, country, love, family, hope, faith… This year viewers will enjoy 4 contest programs of feature films, documentaries, animation as well as a children’s and youth contest “Listapadzik!”.

Authors from more than 60 countries have sent 300 entries for the main feature film competition. The judges have selected the 12 best works. Films from all parts of the world – Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Australia, Oceania, and Europe (including co-productions) – will be screened.

The festival will include film days in Russia, Uzbekistan, China, India, and Indonesia. Besides the presentation of the golden fund of the Belarusian cinema and the Belarusfilm Studios projects will be held during a separate event – the Belarusian Cinema Day. All in all together with out-of-competition works the audience will see more than 100 films in 8 days!

Come to Minsk and enjoy films from all over the world!

St. Anne's Church in the village of Mosar Belarus

If you are going to visit the north of Belarus, you should definitely stop by the Church of St. Anne in the village of Mosar. The church was built in 1792 at the expense of the Brzostowski family, Robert and Anna, the owners of the village at the time and the surrounding land. It was consecrated in the name of St. Anne, the patron saint of Anna of Brzostowski. St. Anne is the mother of the Virgin Mary, a highly respected saint among Christians.

Throughout its existence, the church has remained active, even during the Soviet years. The biggest shrine of the church is a piece of relics of St. Justin, a personal gift from Pope Benedict XIV. It is a special saint, a martyr from the cohort of early Christians.

The priest Juozas Bulka (1925-2010) became abbot of St. Anna Church in 1989. His name is associated not only with reconstruction of the church and its buildings (bell tower, chapel, brick wall), but also with revival of life in the village.

In the area around the church, thanks to help of abbot Juozas Bulka and volunteers, great park with many plants was laid out. Also, artificial lakes and small architectural forms were created in the park, garden sculptures of religious content were installed, alleys and walkways paved with shaped tiles were created. All that was done so magnificently that it made the church in Mosar famous as the “Belarusian Versailles”.

The church in Mosar, which is shrouded in the spirit of Belarusian architecture, attracts many tourists and presents an opportunity to experience a true holiday in Belarus.

big dump truck BELAZ Belarus

The Belarusian Automobile Plant (BELAZ) is one of the largest in the world and the only manufacturer of mining equipment in the CIS.

BELAZ produces unique machinery, striking by its size and capabilities. For the entire history of the company the Belarusian Automobile Plant has developed more than 500 modifications of dump trucks with payload capacity from 27 to 450 tons, the geography of deliveries of which includes 72 countries worldwide.

Do you want to visit the country of giants? Then you by all means need to take a tour to the BELAZ plant in Zhodino, Belarus. This is where the biggest dump trucks in the world are produced! The height of just one wheel of the largest wheel of BELAZ for today is four meters, and the weight of a single tire is more than 5 tons. Such a tire costs about 60 thousand dollars.

The BELAZ-75710 model was included in the Guinness book of records, because this dump truck was able to transport 503 tons of cargo. No other vehicle in the world is capable of it. The height of BELAZ-75710 is comparable to the height of a two-storey house. This truck can not drive on public roads, so it is delivered to the quarries completely disassembled. Fuel consumption of this model by the way is 1300 liters per 100 kilometers, and costs about $10 million per one truck.

During the tour, you will drive around the plant with a sightseeing tour. You can visit the assembly shop, where you will be able to observe firsthand the production of unique equipment. And, of course, you will go to the site with the finished product, where you will have an opportunity to climb on the largest BELAZ in the world, walk under it and take unique photos.

For the most courageous and inquisitive, for an extra fee we can arrange a ride in the cab of a large-capacity BelAZ truck in a test pit.

Come to Belarus, visit Zhodino, dive into the world of giant machinery, learn many interesting facts about these unique trucks.

Yelnya swamp Ramsar site Belarus birdwatching

One of the most important landmarks of Belarus, Yelnya Swamp, is situated in the north of the Vitebsk Region. It is the largest raised bog in Belarus and the fifth largest in Europe. It is over 9 thousand years old! The total area of the reserve is 25,301 hectares, of which 18,794 hectares is occupied by the Yelnya swamp.

The marshes cover vast areas and fascinate with their special character – landscapes, sounds, smells, a variety of fauna and flora. They attract and at the same time frighten with their unpredictability. Most importantly, they produce far more oxygen than forests, which is of vital importance for the ecological balance of the planet.

” Yelnya ” is one of the most visited natural attractions in the country. Apart from the swamps themselves there are forests and 118 large and small lakes. Remarkably, one can drink water from the lakes. The area is home to 130 bird species, including such rare ones as the black-throated loon, the white-tailed eagle and the black stork.

Every autumn in September you can see an impressively beautiful sight – thousands of Eurasian cranes and tens of thousands of geese of various species gather here before the migration season. This is also the time of year when the most delicious time of the year comes on the moor – the cranberry harvest. Yelnya ranks first in Belarus in terms of cranberry reserves.

There are walking and cycling eco-routes for those who want to get a closer view of the bog. They are made in such a way as to minimize the harm caused by human presence. The routes are designed for people with different levels of experience.

From observation points, depending on the season, you can watch cranes or grouse mating. Apart from these, the marshes are home to many other birds, such as the black-throated diver, the Willow Grouse, the mallard duck, the teal and others.
You can feast on cranberries, blueberries, cloudberries and other berries in the season.
For experienced tourists there are longer trails, including overnight stays. There are many huts on the islands that have been built for travellers to rest, and you can also sleep in tents.

Original excursions and tours (extreme, relaxing, expedition) take place here. As a Ramsar Site and a key area for birds, Yelnya attracts numerous birdwatchers from all over the world.

There are many more reasons to come here: the extreme experience, the ethereal beauty of the landscapes, the intoxicating oxygen in the air, which, combined with the fragrance of the plants, becomes aromatherapy.

Visit Yelnya during your trip to Belarus and you will have an unforgettable experience for a long time!