Kalyady, the Pagan Flair of a Belarusian Christmas - Belarus Photo Digest

In the Belarusian countryside, the religious holidays of Christmas and Epiphany are fused with pagan “Kalyady” rituals. From late December into January, groups of villagers dress up in costumes and go house-to-house singing traditional “kaliadki” songs, for which they are rewarded with treats.

The motley cast of Kalyady characters usually includes “Kaza” (the goat), a symbol of fertility and energy, as well as “Kon” (the horse), Baba” (the old woman), “Dzied” (the old man), and “Tsygan” (the gypsy).

The crowd moves from east to west, following the sun, and knocks at every door. Each visit consists of three parts: greeting the masters of the house, performing traditional games and songs, and receiving edible treats.

Here we see pictures from the recent Kalyady celebration in Roh, a small village in Salihorsk region. The celebration was organized by the folk collective “Palesskia Krynicy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the photographer: Siarhei Leskiec is a freelance photographer whose work focuses on everyday life, folk traditions, and rituals in the Belarusian countryside. Originally from Maladzeczna region, he received a history degree from Belarusian State Pedagogical University.

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