European studies blog

Exploring Europe at the British Library

06 January 2014

Celebrating Kaliady

Kaliady – it’s  Christmas, but Belarusian style. ‘Kaliady’ means Calendar (Calendae in Latin)

When I was staying at my parents home this summer in Brest, Belarus I found a wonderful card, published in Minsk by Belposhta with a verse about Kaliady by Belarusian author, poet and translator Ryhor Baradulin and illustrated by Volha Bialitskaia.

Belarusian Kaliady card showing a couple trimming a tree
Belarusian Kaliady card. The inscription reads:  “Let the light of Kaliady’s star shine for your happiness, let the vodka and fate not be bitter”.

Kaliady, which lasts from 25 December 25 to 7 January is a traditional winter festival with Pagan roots. Its celebration coincides with Christmas; there are 12 vegetarian dishes on the festive table and the main dish is Kutia, a sweet grain pudding.

Kaliady is always about traditional values:  family, home, children and of course fun. People dress up in costumes and go with songs and music from home to home – trick or treating almost – but according to folklore the more people knock on your door during Kaliady the more good luck you have in the New Year.

The British Library’s Sound collections hold a CD by Belarusian folk group Troitsa  called Zimachka   (“Winter”) with traditional Belarusian winter folk songs (call  number: 1CD0336480 ). This  well-known group was established in 1996 in Minsk, Belarus. The CD has been kindly catalogued by my colleague Ian Davis (Sound and Vision Cataloguer).

We wish all our readers the very best for Kaliady and the coming year!

Rimma Lough, Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian Cataloguer


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