Two-day ‘Alexandria Gathers Friends’ festival attracts 110,000 people

Meeting of friends in Alexandria

Two-day ‘Alexandria Gathers Friends’ festival attracts 110,000 people, with stalls occupying 650m, allowing 1600 masters from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania to show their handicrafts, while 170 Mogilev Region agrarian and industrial leaders receive awards

True friends show themselves not only in troubles, but in times of joy. This is the seventh such festival in succession, having begun in 2010, on Kupala Night, and it has become symbolic, for the Mogilev Region, and for all Belarus. Neither borders nor political issueshinder it, as is evinced by the mixed nationalities seen on the shopping streets ofMinskaya, Moscowskaya and Kievskaya. All along the Dnieper River, our three Slavonic peoples mingled, embracing the warm spirit of the Shklov District celebrations

The President always finds time to congratulate his countrymen and friends on Alexandria’s Kupala holiday. This time, he announced, “Every year I come here, to our this land. On the eve of arrival, I was thinking that last year was very hard for me. I probably travelled more than once around the globe. But wherever I was, I always thought about home, about this land. Wherever you are, sooner or later, you hear the call of your land, your native home.”

The President is especially happy that his native Alexandria has become a place of friendly meetings and a platform for public diplomacy. He notes, “Respect for not only culture but the creative achievements of other peoples is a trait of the Belarusian national character. In this lies the secret of peaceful, mutual understanding, for which Belarussians are famous. I’m sincerely happy that in this beautiful, pure corner of the Mogilev Region, the mighty Dnieper has united masters and amateurs of folk art.”

This year, there were a great number: more than 500 skilled craftsmen from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and, even, Lithuania, all showing their crafts.  One Lithuanian,AudroneLampitskene, brought dazzling paintings. He told us, “It’s the first time that my colleague, wood sculptor GintautasAkstinas, and I have visited Alexandria,invited by the Folk Art Centre. It’s truly perfect, with nothing more needed. Everything is eye-catching, while our country tends to be more modest.”

The ‘AleksandryiskayaVandrouka’ (Alexandria Travel) tour launched this year, featuring a trip to the ancient printing house. Belarusian books, local cuisine, music and folklore were celebrated, comments the Minister for Information, Lilia Ananich. She tells us, “This year is special for our country, being the Year of Culture. The soul is found in songs, in books and in words.”

Kupala Night
is an ancient Slavonic holiday that relates to the summer solstice. In pagan times, people would thank the elements: Fire, Water and Earth. Following the adoption of Christianity, the holiday became linked to a celebration of the birth of John the Baptist. Many magic traditions and rites are connected with Kupala Night. People believed that rivers shone with the souls of the dead, who would appear under the guise of mermaids. Belarusians would cast spells on herbs and wreathes for love, money and good luck. The holiday is now widely celebrated in all Belarusian cities and towns, on river banks and lake shores, with most guests gathering in Aleksandria. The summer solstice is also widely celebrated in Bulgaria, Latvia, Spain and Hungary.

By Maxim Osipov
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