Kalyady – authetic celebration of winter soltice Kalyady  – authetic celebration of winter soltice

The Belarusian State Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Lifestyle is an open-air museum which presents a typical Belarusian village of the XIXth century. Farmsteads, wooden churches, schools, public barns, mills, smithies, stables – all elements have been brought here from different ethnic regions all over Belarus and were carefully restored. Moreover, exactly here you can buy handcrafts souvenirs made by locals.

Kalyady is a pagan fest to celebrate the end of the year and the winter solstice. The fest starts on the 21th of December and last till the 6th of January. People dance in costumes and sing ritual songs, hoping for good harvests during new year. Everybody has a role, the goat, the bear, the angel, the hunter, the old lady of the village, the evil and the death. It is a fight of the good against evil. Generally, people go from one house to another in the villages. Here, at Ozertso, people were performing for us on the stage. They told us a very specific story. Everybody makes a round and dance around the goat, which is the symbol of fertility. Then suddenly, the evil and the death attack the goat to try to take her soul. Other members are defending the goat and bring her back to life. Then, the goat goes to see the spectators and ask people for sweets or fruits. Everybody sings the Kalyada song.

Kalyady is a must see for people who wish to understand better Belarussian culture. I highly recommend it as an unusual experience. The atmosphere is very cheerful and people really create a bond between each other. I was amazed that this show gathers every generations. Even if this tradition tends to be less and less celebrated, this small group of passionate has the willingness to perpetuate the tradition. This is maybe something I like most about Belarussians, they are looking forward to their future with optimism but never forget the past. Kalyada is a brilliant demonstration of Belarussian mentality. So don’t hesitate and be part of this amazing fest!