Belarus Cultural environment

Of the earliest time of east Slav settlement, little remains in Belarus. It wasn’t until the 16th century that a distinctly Belarusian culture really started to take shape. Long stretches of foreign rule, first by the grand duchy of Lithuania and the kingdom of Poland, then by tsarist Russia, and later by the Soviet Union, however, introduced a number of outside influences as Belarusian culture developed, from the European Baroque and Classical architectural styles to the cultural restraints of Socialist Realism.

Although the Russian tsars and the Soviet authorities made great attempts to repress Belarusian language and culture, the Belarusians were able to maintain their uniqueness as a people.

When human rights advocate Alex Bialiatski, who in 1986 cofounded a group of young writers that amplified Belarusian literature and cultural thought and coincided with a broad awakening of Belarusian national identity, won the Nobel Peace Prize (along with the Center for Civil Liberties and Memorial), Belarusian nationalism received a boost.

Daily routines and societal norms

Belarus’ Independence Day is observed on July 3, which commemorates the day the Soviet Union liberated Minsk from German control in 1944. Opposition parties and some Belarusians still observe the holiday on July 27, the day state sovereignty was proclaimed in 1990.

The short-lived Belarusian National Republic declared its independence on March 25, 1918, a date that is also observed by the opposition. The majority of Soviet holidays, including Victory Day (May 9), as well as religious festivals such both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Easters, are still observed.

Several yearly and biennial festivals are supported by a presidential fund for culture and the arts. The Slavic Bazaar, an international arts festival in Vitsyebsk, the Spring International Music Festival in Minsk, and the Arts for Children and Youth festival are a few of its most renowned festivals.

Most families are therefore tiny in size because the country’s overall fertility rate dropped below two children per reproductive woman after independence. Many families spend their summers cultivating local products at dachas, or country homes. Picking mushrooms is still a pretty common activity.

Belarusian cuisine frequently uses ingredients from the neighborhood. In meals like potato dumplings, potato pancakes, and baked potato pie, potatoes are an almost universal ingredient. Rye bread is usually served alongside these dishes as well as borsch (beet soup), hog stew, stuffed poultry, beef sausage, and pastries with meat or cabbage contents. A fresh cheese (tvorog) and a fermented cheese (siyr) are well-known dairy products.

Kompot is a berry juice, while kvass is a traditional beverage made from fermented bread. Vodka is the most common alcoholic beverage, while beer is becoming more and more popular, especially among younger people.


Architecture, arts

The Cathedral of St. Sophia in Polatsk, which was constructed in the Eastern Orthodox style in the 11th century, is one of the nation’s oldest still-standing examples of architecture. The 12th century is when Hrodna’s Boris and Gleb (Barys and Hlyeb) church was built.

The princely stone strongholds from the 12th to 16th centuries make up the majority of the other early structures that are still standing, mainly in ruins. The White Tower at Kamyanyets from the thirteenth century is among the most well-known of these.

The Jesuit, Bernardine, and Bridgettine churches in Hrodna are examples of the Baroque style, which first emerged in the 17th century and was strongly associated with the Roman Catholic march to the east.

The “Moscow Baroque” style was developed in Russia after the Baroque movement had spread further east thanks in part to its artisans. According to the Governor’s Palace in Hrodna, Belarusian architecture in the 18th century was dominated by classical styles.

A significant portion of the nation’s architectural legacy was destroyed during World War II, especially in Minsk. Because Minsk underwent extensive post-war reconstruction, the majority of the central city’s architecture exhibits the opulent Stalinist aesthetic with its Classical influences.


 Belarus’s literary history begins in the 11th century. St. Cyril of Turaw, known among Orthodox Slavs as In the 12th century, “the second St. Chrysostom,” wrote sermons and hymns. The Bible was translated into Belarusian in the 16th century by Francisk Skorina of Polatsk, who also penned lengthy introductions explaining each book’s contents. His publications, printed in Vilnius (Lithuania) in 1522–25 and Prague (now in the Czech Republic) in 1517–19, were the first printed books in eastern Europe overall, not only in Belarus.

 The first person to introduce the Baroque literary style to Moscow was the Belarusian poet Simeon Polotsky (also known as Simeon of Polatsk) in the 17th century.

The first half of the 19th century saw the creation of modern Belarusian literature thanks to Yan Chachot and Vincent Dunin-Martsinkyevich, who translated portions of the epic Master Adam Mickiewicz’s poem Thaddeus in Belarusian.

The poetry of Maksim Bahdanovich, Ales Harun, and other authors from the early 20th century is considered classic literature.Vladimir Zylka, Kazimir Svayak, Yanka Kupala, and Yakub Kolas, as well as the prose writers Zmitrok Byadulya and Maksim Haretski.

Numerous of these authors had contributed to the well-known Belarusian journal Nasha Niva (“Our Field”), which was published in Vilnius from 1906 to 1916. The Locals (1922), a play by Kupala, and Two Souls (1919), a short novel by Haretski, are both significant for comprehending the cultural predicament of Belarus in the midst of war and revolution.

The 1920s saw the rise of many distinguished poets and prose authors, among them the poets Yazep Pushcha and Vladimir Dubovka, the novelist Kuzma Chorny, and the satirist and playwright Kandrat Krapiva.

Stricter governmental control over Belarusian cultural activities resulted from Pushcha’s literary clashes with the poet Andrey Aleksandrovich towards the end of the 1920s. Up until Soviet forces conquered it in 1939, the portion of Belarus that was under Polish rule experienced higher literary development.

 Maksim Tank, who wrote the lengthy poems Narach (1937) and Kalinowski (1938), and Natalla Arseneva, whose best poetry may be found in the collections Beneath the Blue Sky (1927), Golden Autumn (1937), and Today (1944), are two notable authors that came out of that region.

The poets Pimen Panchanka and Arkadi Kulyashov, as well as the prose writers Yanka Bryl, Ivan Shamyakin, and Ivan Melezh, are most notable among the authors who preserved and advanced the 1940s and 1950s Belarusian literary heritage. With the books of Vasil Bykau and Uladzimir Karatkievich, another national resurgence had its flimsy beginnings in the 1960s.

The poets Yawhyeniya Yanishchyts and Ales Razanov, as well as the short-story writer Anatol Sys, are notable examples of writers from the latter half of the 20th century.

Svetlana Alexievich, whose book Voices from Chernobyl was translated into English in 2005, is another well-known writer from the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as is novelist and poet Volha Ipatava, as well as poet Slavamir Adamovich, whose poem “Kill the President!” resulted in his imprisonment in 1996–1997.

Because of the political environment, a number of well-known Belarusian authors departed the nation in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. They included Bykau and Ales Adamovich, who are both widely recognized for their writings on the Second World War’s Soviet-German combat.



Long ago, Belarus had its own folk music. From the 16th century on, there was also a sizable heritage of church music. In significant part, the post-World War II era has seen the rise of classical music. Kulikovich Shchahlow, who went into exile after the war like some writers, is one of the most renowned composers. Others include Yawhen Tsikotski, whose compositions include the operas Mikhas Padhorny (1939-57) and Alesya (1944), as well as Yawhen Hlyebaw, who wrote the opera Your Spring (1963) and the ballet Alpine Ballad (1967).

There is a national philharmonic society and a music conservatory in Minsk. The Nyasvizh (Nesvizh) and Mir castles, which were named UNESCO World Heritage monuments in 2005 and 2000, respectively, host concerts on a regular basis.


cultural establishment

The Great Patriotic War Museum, the National Museum of Belarusian History and Culture, the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, the Yakub Kolas State Memorial and Literary Museum, and the Yanka Kupala State Literary Museum are some of most well-known museums. All of these institutions are found in Minsk. Other noteworthy sites include the 1842-built Brest Fortress, the Khatyn Memorial honoring Belarusian villagers who were massacred by the Nazis, and the Stalin Line museum complex, which is located close to Zaslavl and retains a number of World War II-era defensive structures.

Vitsyebsk is home to Marc Chagall’s former residence as well as a modest museum showcasing his artwork. The top ballet and opera companies in the nation perform at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Minsk. In Minsk, the National Library of Belarus was founded in 1922. It moved to a new structure in 2006.

sports and leisure

The people of Belarus take part in many sports. Football (soccer) is unquestionably the most popular sport in the Country; the majority of towns and villages have amateur or semiprofessional teams, while larger cities support professional clubs that frequently play in international competitions. Basketball is another sport that has a sizable fan base and several professional teams. Ice hockey, track and field, gymnastics, and wrestling are additional prominent sports.


the Country has a well-organized system of sports education, including two Olympic training facilities, specialized children’s sports schools, undergraduate physical education programs, a graduate sports academy, and venues for several of the football games played in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Tennis player Natalia Zvereva, figure skater Igor Zhelezovsky, and weightlifter Alexander Kurlovich are just a few of the notable alumni from these schools.

Between 1952 and 1988, Belarusians participated in the Soviet Union’s Olympic team. Olympic gymnast Olga Korbut won three gold medals in Munich in 1972. Belarus was a member of the Unified Team, which included athletes from the former Soviet states, at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. At the Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996, The Country made its debut as a solo athlete. Belarusian athletes have won multiple medals in a variety of sports, including weightlifting, rowing, gymnastics, wrestling, and athletics at both this and previous Olympics.


publishing and the media

The government maintains tight control over the media, with some outlets acting as state-run institutions. The principal newspapers are SB-Belarus Segodnya (“Belarus Today”), published in Russian, the presidential organ; Narodnaya Hazeta (“People’s Newspaper”), published in Belarusian and Russian; and Zvyazda (“Star”), a second state publication, published in Belarusian.

The government regulates where these publications may be marketed. The two biggest opposition newspapers are Narodnaya Volya (“People’s Will”), published in Belarusian and Russian, and Nasha Niva (“Our Field”). Notable publications include Belaruskaya Dumka (“Belarusian Thought”), Neman (a reference to the same-named river), and the twice-monthly independent scientific magazine Arche (a nod to the Greek word for “beginning” or “authority”).

There are only a few Belarusian television channels, and there is little availability of Western stations. However, a number of Russian channels are transmitted in Belarus. The majority of radio stations are run by the government. An independent satellite station called European Radio for Belarus started broadcasting in 2005.


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