At the end of the agricultural season, Belarusians organise grandiose holidays in honour of rural workers. Folk festivals in the regions are in no way inferior in scope to those in the capital.
Dress up the spikelets brighter
Belarus is the only country where the Slavic tradition of celebrating the end of the harvest has been turned into a public holiday. As soon as the last combine leaves the field, it is time for a noisy celebration. Moreover, each region organises its own Dazhynki: the joy is multiplied many times over and shared among everyone. Preparations for the festival begin a year in advance. The host cities (and they are always different) are put in order, overhauled and improved. For the reason that the holiday invariably starts with a grandiose carnival on the main streets — a colourful procession stretches for kilometres. Beauties in national costumes, parades of agricultural machinery, pyramids of delicious fruits and vegetables of the new harvest. But the main character is the last sheaf removed from the field. It has special honour, because it is a symbol of wealth and fertility. By the way, armfuls of spikelets are also dressed up in bright clothes — this is the routine.
Take a bite from the giant loaf
Traditionally, a large loaf is baked from flour from the new harvest. The fragrant wheat treat impresses not only with its taste, but also with its size — as a rule, it weighs tens or even hundreds of kilogrammes. Multi-tiered golden buns resemble works of art — they are decorated with edible flowers, birds, windmills and state symbols. It can take a week to make one loaf — knead, rise, bake. And all this is done manually — traditional bread simply will not work if machines are connected at least at one of the stages. The hostess, of course, does not disclose the recipes for the aromatic delicacy to the guests of Dazhynki. But you are always welcome to try a piece.
Buy Malyavankas and towels
Russia has Gzhel porcelain, Zhostovo trays, Palekh boxes and Khokhloma dishes. What can Belarusians boast of? Malyavankas, embroidered shirts, painted furniture, woven bedspreads and towels — folk craftsmen sell so many things! The state provides significant support to traditional crafts — cultural heritage should not disappear in the era of mass consumption. A brisk trade in handmade goods takes place precisely at seasonal festivals. A favourite pastime at Dazhynki is a win-win lottery. The prizes include not only clay cups and linen souvenirs, but also very respectable items like a live pig or a calf. Will you participate?
Roll in the art hayloft
Clay, sand and ice? Grain growers from Belarus have their own special material for creativity — straw bales. They are put together like a construction set, and entire castles and cities literally grow along the roads. Here simple food for cows can be turned into a couple of loving peasants, funny bear cubs and even a tractor. Farms and farmers compete to see whose work is more beautiful and interesting. Why are they trying, if with the onset of cold weather the art objects will still be used as livestock feed? For the mood! The path to Dazhynki always lies through the fields. By the time guests arrive, they will gain positive impressions and fill their smartphones with fun selfies.
Dance a polka with podkindes
The atmospheric song and dance marathon of Dazhynki starts early in the morning and ends after midnight. The stage does not remain empty for a minute — amateur groups alternate non-stop with professional ones. At the same time, there is no stage — folk motifs work best. Well, what about without the Belarusian polka? The dance has nothing to do with Poland: its name is associated with the ‘half step’ — quick jumps from foot to foot. Butterfly polka, shaking polka, merry polka — this choreographic miracle has hundreds of variations. One of the most fun is performed with podkindes — the ladies literally fly into the air, and the men reliably hold them.