Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Happy Old New Year! (video and an explanation of the holiday)

Belarus is one of the few countries in the world, where people celebrate the Old New Year - the holiday, which confuses many foreigners when they first hear about it. It’s not an official day-off, but many people take the celebration of the Old New Year rather seriously!

Russia Empire was one of the few countries that refused to change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582 and continued to celebrate all its holidays as before. By the way, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, together with Spain, Italy and Portugal was the first country which started using the Gregorian calendar. It happened on Oct. 4, 1582. But after 1795, the territory of modern Belarus was a part of Russia and the people began to use the Julian calendar, too. The Old New Year is celebrated on January 14. According to the old, Julian calendar, it’s December 31, which means that the Old New Year is the actual New Year - just old style.

Since all religious holidays were banned in the Soviet Union, the only big-deal winter holiday that Russians had left was the New Year’s. But people love holidays too much to give up a day of celebration! To compensate for the loss of Christmas, Soviet people started to celebrate the Old New Year.

In Belarus, the Old New Year coincided with the ancient pagan holiday of Shchodry Vechar. This evening, today, children and adults are knocking on doors, sing holiday songs and asking for treats or money. You need to open the door. If you have not met the guests, the whole year will be unhappy. Young girl doing rituals of divination. They want to learn more about their fate and love. 

And  you can buy cheap candy for children in the stores. Today I distributed all small bills and all sweets, my hands are tired to open the door. I've heard a lot of beautiful songs and holiday greetings. And now I'm writing this post, and the women singing folk songs downstairs. It's very beautiful.

I suggest you watch the video below. At first part you will see how people celebrate this day in the village and see national Belarusians food  (kvass, pancakes, yaechnya, kutstsya), you will hear special holiday songs, The second video is amateur. Young people singing holiday song in the subway.

My students learned schedrovki (special songs) few weeks ago, they are now also knocking on doors and asking for treats. I think a lot of chocolates will be eaten at school tomorrow)))

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