The old New Year
Did you know that apart from New Year’s Eve Belarus also celebrates the so-called Old New Year?
The Old New Year came into our culture together with a calendar change.
In 1918 the Bolshevik government decided to change the calendar. Tsarist Russia lived by the Julian calendar, while Europe lived by the Gregorian calendar. The difference between the two calculation systems was 13 days and caused difficulties in international political and economic relations.
The Russian Orthodox Church did not agree with the transition to the Gregorian calendar and did not move away from the Julian calendar. That is why Christmas is still celebrated on January 7 in our country, while in Catholic countries it is celebrated on December 25.
Traditionally, the Old New Year is celebrated on January 13 in all countries where the Church follows the Julian calendar. These holidays are celebrated in the countries of the former Soviet Union, but also in Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Algeria and Tunisia, amongst others.
In Belarus the two “New Years” are still celebrated – the old and the new. So in the night from January 13 to 14 can once again afford to celebrate properly.
The Julian Christmas and the old New Year thus also extend the holidays, for example, in Russia the year starts with long New Year vacations, which usually last until around January 10. In Belarus, only January 7 is a holiday. Old New Year itself is not an official holiday.
In the past, before the Old New Year there was a tradition of a kind of carol singing. Young people and children dressed up and went singing from house to house. They asked for sweets, money and small gifts. It was customary to shower the heads of households with grain, a symbol of wealth and prosperity. The belief was that this would bring peace and prosperity to the house in the new year.
This belief has survived in many places, and so the tradition lives on, especially in the countryside.
You can learn more about customs and traditions surrounding Christian Orthodox holidays in Belarus here.