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Heritage Sites:Kalyady Ritual Game ‘Zhanitsba Tsiareshki’ (‘Tsiareshka’s Wedding’)

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Christmas– ‘Kalyady’ - in Belarus is the time of distinctive holiday celebrations. The Kalyady ritual game ‘Zhanitsba Tsiareshki’ (‘Tsiareshka’s Wedding’) is traditionally held at the end of December and early January in Lepel and other regions in northern Belarus. The game is usually organized by young people in long-lasting winter evenings. They gather together in one house to dance and specially invited honorable villagers – ‘Matka’ and ‘Batska’ (an older couple) – start the game with the words – “Why don’t we marry Tsiareshka?” Usually young people secretly told ‘Matka’ in advance about their feelings for someone because the ritual game was a symbolic ‘marriage.’ It provided a chance to find a partner for the future. Quite often a ‘symbolic ‘marriage’ ended with a real one although this is not obligatory. During the game the pairs dance in a particular manner with ‘Matka’, ‘Batska’ and each other, play ‘Ruchajok’ (Streamlet) and ‘Pacalunki’ (Kisses). During ‘Ruchajok’ the pairs catch each other while running through a row of people; in ‘Pacalunki’ the pairs sit back to back on a bench and on a signal they have to turn their heads to each other. If they turn to the same side the sweet award of a kiss awaits. The evening ends with a dance of all participants. The pairs established during are symbolically linked for the coming new year. ‘Zhanitsba Tsiareshki’ is a vibrant example of living spiritual heritage in the Belarusian village. You can experience, this charming ritual game if you visit Lepel region during Christmas. The ritual’s significance is being recognized by listing ‘Zhanitsba Tsiareshki’ among potential claimants to the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List.

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About the Heritage Site

  • Country: Belarus
  • Location: different villages in Lepiel district
  • Experience offered:
  • Good to know:
  • Lepiel

Accessibility of Heritage Site

  • Opening times: 25.12 - 07.01
  • Phone:+375 29 5970036