Arts and literature
The Belarusian government supports yearly cultural events such as Vitebsk’s Bazaar, which features Belarusian performers, painters, authors, singers, and actors. Several state holidays, including Independence Day and Victory Day, attract large crowds and often involve displays like as fireworks and military parades, particularly in Vitebsk and Minsk. The Ministry of Culture of Belarus supports events that promote Belarusian arts and culture both within and beyond the nation.
Belarusian literary started with holy texts from the 11th to 13th centuries, such as Cyril of Turaw’s 12th-century poetry.
Francysk Skaryna, a Polotsk native, translated the Bible into Belarusian around the 16th century. It was published between 1517 and 1525 in Prague and Vilnius, making it the earliest book produced in Belarus or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Yanka Kupala was a notable writer during the modern period of Belarusian literature, which started in the late nineteenth century. Many Belarusian authors of the period, including Uadzimir yka, Kazimir Svayak, Yakub Kolas, Mitrok Biadula, and Maksim Haretski, contributed to Nasha Niva, a Belarusian-language newspaper that was formerly published in Vilnius but is currently published in Minsk.
The Soviet government assumed charge of the Republic’s cultural activities when Belarus was integrated into the Soviet Union. In the newly created Byelorussian SSR, a program of “Belarusianization” was first implemented. In the 1930s, this strategy was reversed, and the bulk of famous Belarusian intellectuals and nationalist supporters were either deported or murdered in Stalinist purges. Until the Soviet takeover in 1939, only Polish-held territory allowed for the free development of literature. Following the Nazi occupation of Belarus, many poets and writers fled into exile and did not return until the 1960s.
The last great resurgence of Belarusian literary came in the 1960s, when novels by Vasil Byka and Uladzimir Karatkievich were published. Ales Adamovich was a well-known novelist who dedicated his efforts to raising awareness of the country’s tragedies. Svetlana Alexievich, the Belarussian recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2015, described him as “her primary instructor, who enabled her to discover her own way.”
Belarusian music is dominated by a rich heritage of folk and liturgical music. Folk music traditions in Lithuania may be traced back to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. While residing in Minsk in the nineteenth century, Polish composer Stanisaw Moniuszko wrote operas and chamber music pieces. During his visit, he collaborated with Belarusian poet Vintsent Dunin-Martsinkyevich on the opera Sialanka (Peasant Woman). Major Belarusian cities had their own opera and ballet companies towards the end of the nineteenth century. M. Kroshner’s ballet Nightingale was written during the Soviet period and was the first Belarusian dance to be performed at the National Academic Vialiki Ballet Theatre in Minsk.
Following WWII, songs centered on the difficulties of the Belarusian people or those who took up weapons in defense of their country. Anatoly Bogatyrev, the composer of the opera In Polesye Virgin Forest, was the “teacher” of Belarusian composers at this time. In 1996, the National Academic Theatre of Ballet in Minsk was awarded the Benois de la Dance Prize as the world’s best ballet company. Rock music has grown in popularity in recent years, despite the Belarusian government’s efforts to restrict the amount of foreign music broadcast on the radio in favor of indigenous Belarusian music. Belarus has been sending singers to the Eurovision Song Contest since 2004.
Marc Chagall was born in 1887 in Liozna (near Vitebsk). He spent the years after World War I in Soviet Belarus, where he rose to become one of the country’s most renowned painters and a member of the modernist avant-garde, as well as the creator of the Vitebsk Arts College.
Traditional Belarusian clothing dates back to the Kievan Rus’ era. Due to the cold temperature, clothing was intended to keep body heat in and was often made of flax or wool. They were embellished with elaborate designs inspired by surrounding civilizations, including Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Russians, and other European countries. Each area in Belarus has its own design trends. One decorative design prevalent in early garments now adorns the hoist of the Belarusian national flag, which was approved in a contentious referendum in 1995.
Belarussian cuisine is mostly composed of vegetables, meat (especially pig), and bread. Food is typically cooked slowly or stewed. Belarusians typically have a modest breakfast and two substantial meals each day, with dinner being the largest meal of the day. Belarusians eat both wheat and rye bread, although rye is more abundant since growing conditions for wheat are too severe. When welcoming a guest or visitor, a host typically gives a gift of bread and salt.
Belarus has participated in the Olympic Games since the Winter Olympics in 1994. President Lukashenko has presided over the country’s National Olympic Committee since 1997.
Ice hockey, which is heavily subsidized by the government, is the nation’s second most popular sport after football. The national squad has never qualified for a major competition, although BATE Borisov has competed in the Champions League. The national hockey team placed fourth in overall competition at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and its players have played in North America’s National Hockey League. Darya Domracheva is a world-class biathlete who won three gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
At the Australian Open in 2012, tennis player Victoria Azarenka became the first Belarusian to win a Grand Slam singles championship. She also won the mixed doubles gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Max Mirnyi, who has eleven Grand Slam doubles championships.
Other prominent Belarusians include cyclist Vasil Kiryienka, who won the Road World Time Trial Championship in 2015, and middle distance runner Maryna Arzamasava, who won the gold medal in the 800m at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics.