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Christmas in Belarus: A Journey Through Traditions and Festivities

Discovering the Rich Traditions and Modern Celebrations of Belarusian Christmas

Christmas in Belarus is a unique blend of traditional and modern celebrations, steeped in centuries-old customs that have been preserved to this day. In this article, we’ll explore some of the fascinating Belarusian Christmas traditions, traditional dishes, modern festivities, and the spirit of gift-giving that defines this joyous holiday in Belarus.


Belarusian Christmas Traditions


Kaliady, an ancient pagan winter solstice festival, is the precursor to Belarusian Christmas celebrations. Today, it is celebrated during the Christmas season, with people dressing up in costumes and performing traditional songs, dances, and skits. The Kaliady festivities bring communities together, showcasing their unique customs and traditions.


Christmas Eve Dinner

On Christmas Eve, families in Belarus gather for a special dinner called “Kutia.” This meal consists of 12 meatless dishes that represent the 12 Apostles. The main course, also named “Kutia,” is a sweet grain pudding that symbolizes unity, prosperity, and good fortune. Families begin the meal with a prayer, and it is believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors join them during this time.


Christmas Tree

Belarusians, like many around the world, decorate Christmas trees in their homes. This tradition is rooted in pagan beliefs, symbolizing the eternal cycle of life and the hope for a prosperous year ahead. Families gather around the tree to sing carols, exchange gifts, and spend quality time together.



Caroling, or “Kaliadavanne,” is a popular tradition in Belarus during the Christmas season. Groups of people, often dressed in colorful costumes, go from house to house singing carols, wishing their neighbors good fortune, health, and happiness. In return, they receive treats and small gifts as a token of gratitude and goodwill.



The period between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6th) is called Svyatki. It is a time filled with joy, merriment, and various fortune-telling rituals, particularly among young people. Many Belarusians believe that the future can be predicted during this time, adding an element of mystique to the celebrations.


Traditional Christmas Dishes


As mentioned earlier, Kutia is the centerpiece of the Christmas Eve dinner. It is a sweet grain pudding made from wheat berries, poppy seeds, honey, and sometimes raisins, symbolizing prosperity and unity among family members.


Kaliadny Kisel

Kaliadny Kisel is a traditional Belarusian Christmas drink made from dried fruits, such as apples, pears, and prunes, boiled in water with sugar and spices. It is usually served warm, and its fruity flavor and aromatic spices make it a comforting beverage for the cold winter nights.



Herring is another staple of the Belarusian Christmas Eve dinner. It is usually served cold and marinated, accompanied by a variety of vegetables, such as onions, pickles, and beets. This dish represents the importance of fish in the traditional Belarusian cuisine, especially during the fasting period before Christmas.


Modern Belarusian Celebrations

Christmas Markets

In recent years, Christmas markets have become increasingly popular in Belarus, particularly in the capital city of Minsk. These markets offer a wide range of festive goods, from handmade crafts and ornaments to delicious food and warm beverages. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, the twinkling lights, and the opportunity to find unique Christmas gifts.


Concerts and Events

During the Christmas season, Belarus comes alive with various concerts, performances, and events. Choirs, orchestras, and folk ensembles showcase their talents, performing both traditional and modern Christmas music. Additionally, many cities and towns hold festive events, such as parades, ice-skating shows, and tree-lighting ceremonies, creating a magical atmosphere for all to enjoy.


Gift Giving

Gift-giving is an essential part of Christmas celebrations in Belarus. It is customary for families and friends to exchange presents, expressing their love and appreciation for one another. Children eagerly await the arrival of “Ded Moroz” (Grandfather Frost) and his granddaughter “Snegurochka” (Snow Maiden), who bring gifts and spread joy during the holiday season.



Christmas in Belarus is a time of joy, togetherness, and celebration. From the deep-rooted traditions of Kaliady, caroling, and Svyatki to the modern festivities found in Christmas markets and concerts, Belarusians embrace the spirit of the season wholeheartedly. As families gather around the dinner table, sharing traditional dishes and exchanging gifts, the true meaning of Christmas comes alive in the hearts of all those who partake in this magical time of year.



  1. When is Christmas celebrated in Belarus? Christmas in Belarus is celebrated on December 25th, following the Gregorian calendar.
  2. What is Kaliady? Kaliady is an ancient pagan winter solstice festival that has evolved into a Christmas celebration in Belarus, involving people dressing up in costumes, singing, dancing, and performing traditional skits.
  3. What are some traditional Belarusian Christmas dishes? Some traditional Belarusian Christmas dishes include Kutia (a sweet grain pudding), Kaliadny Kisel (a warm fruit drink), and marinated herring.
  4. What is the significance of the 12 dishes served during Christmas Eve dinner? The 12 dishes served during Christmas Eve dinner in Belarus represent the 12 Apostles, and they are all meatless to observe the fasting period before Christmas.
  5. Who brings gifts to children in Belarus during Christmas? In Belarus, “Ded Moroz” (Grandfather Frost) and his granddaughter “Snegurochka” (Snow Maiden) bring gifts to children during the Christmas season.

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