Belarusian Rite Of The Kolyady (Christmas) Tsars

The rite of the Kolyady Tsars dates back to the 18th century, when the tsar’s military units were located not far from the village of Semezhevo. According to the local legend, during the New Year celebrations in accordance to the old style calendar (Julian calendar) soldiers and officers visited local houses to give comic performances and receive rewards. Since then, locals continued the tradition and turned it into a unique Christmas event. The rite of the Kolyady Tsars combines the elements of carnival and folk plays, with distinctive local performing arts, decorative and applied arts (costumes, interior decorations), special Christmas national cuisine dishes. People believe that being visited by the ''tsars'' brings peace, harmony and wealth for a year.

Tsars folk company
 
The rite was revived in 1996: the necessary documentary materials were collected, old-timers were interviewed. Since then Semezhevo has been hosting the Kolyady Tsars annually. Traditionally, young men and boys participate in the rite of the Kolyady Tsars. They dress in white trousers and shirts, with red embroidered Semezhevo belts crisscrossed across their chests, and high caps adorned with colorful paper ribbons. Every young man plays his own role - doctor, drummer, fur carrier… The other characters include the main lead Tsar Maximilian, the Tsar Mamay, the Ded (old man) and Baba (old lady).

Kolyady Tsars
 
Moving along the village’s street, the procession performs the historical religious drama “Tsar Maximilian” featuring picturesque scenes, folk medicine secrets. As darkness falls, the “tsars” light torches. The rite is celebrated on “Shchedry Vecher” (Shchedrets, Shchodryk, Malanka, from Russian ''shchedry'' - lavish) on 13-14 January.

The drama “King Maximilian” in action

Read More


"Vozhdenie Suly": a gift from antiquity

Do you know what "Vozhdenie Suly" is? This Belarusian rite was held in the village of Markovichi, Gomel region. Sula is a spear, a throwing weapon. Perhaps an arrow or a sula, which was thrown into the crowd of men, was a lot: the "victim" of arrow was given to the pagan god of fertility. But this is just a guess.

Radunitsa: taking care of ancestors

On this day, the Tuesday of St. Thomas week, according to the order instituted by our Holy Fathers, we call to remembrance, in Paschal joy, all those who have died from the beginning of the ages in faith and in the hope of resurrection and life eternal.

Kupala Night in Belarus

When summer is in full swing, Belarus celebrates Kupala Night (or Kupalle), one of the oldest folk holidays dedicated to the sun and efflorescence.

Comments