Christmas traditions in Belarus & Slovakia

Stories about Christmas traditions around the world by our lovely international staff.

Learn how to say Merry Christmas in Belarusian and Slovakian !

uploaded on 06/12/2019

Christmas traditions in Belarus

By Oksana Novokhrost - Financial Director

 

Christmas in Belarus is part of Kaliady, a two-week celebration of the winter solstice as per old pagan traditions. However, during the Soviet times all religious and pagan holidays were banned, so for many people New Year remains the main focus of the festivities.

We also have two Christmases. One is celebrated by the Catholic population on 25th December and another by the Orthodox Christians on 7th January.

People living in the cities celebrate the holidays in a similar way all Europeans do. In rural areas however, there is much more fun going on. There would be processions of folks dressed up in colourful costumes wearing masks representing different fantastic beasts. They would sing ritual songs and special Kaliady carols, walking around the village visiting every house to wish the neighbourhood good health and successful harvest in the coming year in exchange for delicious treats. The procession is usually lead by someone dressed as the She-Goat (Kaza), the symbol of fertility and prosperity, carrying a Christmas star, the symbol of Sun and Life. Z Kaliadami!

 

Christmas traditions in Slovakia

By Marianna White - Enrolments and Accommodation Administrator

 

Slovakian Christmas time starts on the first Sunday in December and last until the 6th of January.

On the first Sunday in December, all families put up their advent wrench and light up the first candle. As you can imagine, on the second Sunday the second candle and so on until the Christmas Eve.

Slovakia is a catholic country and the 24th of December is about preparation for the evening feast and for the celebration of Jesus. This is the day when many families build their Christmas trees as well. In the evening, feast starts. Every region has got their own menu. Many families do not eat meat on this day, including mine. I am from the north and we start with thin waffle with honey followed by bread and garlic. There is a symbolism behind everything we eat but we would need a few pages to explain them all. Next course is sour cabbage soup and deep-fried carp with potatoes salad (bear in mind this carp was probably swimming in your bath a few days ago). If you are still hungry, there is a huge selection of homemade cakes, fruit and of course different drinks including eggnog or christmas punch. After dinner, families goes together and check if any presents were dropped off by Little Jesus. Yes, in Slovakia Little Jesus brings presents! If you are able to move after all that feasting you can go to the midnight mass. If not, you would usually watch Christmas movies with your family.

Next day, we are spending our time with the closest family and the 26th is very similar. The main difference is that on the 26th of December fast which has started at the beginning of December stops, so all young people go partying until morning.

Our Christmas is celebration of Jesus being born and celebrations of our families. It is not all about presents but mainly about spending our time together in this busy world. Vesele Vianoce!