Comparison of Belarusian & British Traditions

Analysis of the literature and other sources to compare lifestyle and traditions of Belarus and Britain. People, culture, religion, food, holidays, important dates interesting events and customs. The value for the traditions of each country.

Рубрика Краеведение и этнография
Вид курсовая работа
Язык английский
Дата добавления 13.04.2014
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Table of Contents


1. Britain

1.1 The Island

1.2 Britain History

1.3 British Customs and Folk Traditions

1.4 Traditional Holidays

1.5 Religious Views of People in Britain

1.6 Stereotypes

1.7 The Love of Nature

1.8 Formality and Informality

1.9 English and British

1.10 Family Life in Britain

1.11 British Cuisine

2. Belarus

2.1 Belarus

2.2 Belarusian History

2.3 Belarusian Customs & Folk Traditions

2.4 Christian Holidays

2.5 Religious Views of People in Belarus

2.6 Stereotypes

2.7 Belarusian and Russian

2.8 Belarusian Cuisine

2.9 Family Life in Belarus

3. Comparison of Belarusian & British Traditions




The culture in which we grow up molds our views of ourselves and the world around us and maintains a connection with our ancestors and traditions. The feeling of belonging to a group of people with whom we identify is a human need that gets expressed by learning and cherishing one's ethnic, religious and cultural.

Differences in Traditions and Cultures of the world are very vast ones. Every country, city, and land has its own tradition and culture that is entirely different from each other. People, generally after they have picked up a certain tradition, find it very difficult to adapt to another tradition or culture.

This reluctance to easily adapt a new tradition is the main reason as to why there are many differences among people, due to their tradition. Some people, refuse to accept another tradition because their views are different and they treat all basic activities differently.

In another country if a person feels out of place, it is because his traditional activities are completely different from those of the new country, therefore he moves around according to his own tradition.

The main traditional and cultural differences are Language, Non-Verbal signs and Symbols, Preconceptions and Stereotypes, Evaluation and High anxiety.

Language poses a great problem to people from different cultural backgrounds as they do not clearly understand what is being said, they only listen to the words said interpret their meaning, instead of relating it to the context of what is being said.

Nonverbal signs and symbols are also an important cause of traditional differences, because people only see and hear what they think is important and therefore they ignore the other person's signs and actions even if it is of great importance. Belarus British tradition culture

Preconceptions and Stereotypes are one of the major reasons as to why there is an intercultural and traditional gap. People stay away from other cultural people and they also behave differently mainly because of the stereotypes. Stereotypes are overgeneralised beliefs that provide conceptual bases from which to 'make sense' out of what goes on around us.

People easily evaluate others on the basis of their actions and statements rather than trying to understand the feelings that are being conveyed. People also feel high anxiety when they communicate to foreigners, because he is unaware of the foreigner's background and tradition. Even time is given different levels of importance in every country. Not everyone treats time the same way, importance of time varies from place to place and from person to person.

All these traditional differences greatly affect all the various cultures and prevent them from mingling with each other and building a strong and healthy relationship. Therefore, people stick to their own group or people without trying to reach out to the others. They do not even try to build a bond between the different cultures and therefore them unaware about the activities of the others.

I strongly feel that people must let themselves free and open up to other cultures and learn more about them to be able to relate and communicate to them in a better way, which will definitely reduce intercultural and traditional differences.

To all these questions which I find very important I dedicate my work. I have decided to analyze some of most interesting to my opinion things in the traditions of my native country and the country of the studying language.

I'm sure it will help me to understand both countries better.

1. Britain

1.1 The Island

The UK is situated north-west of the European continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It has a total land area of 244,100 square kilometres, of which nearly 99% is land and the remainder inland water. From north to south it is about 1,000 km long.

The name `Britain' comes from the word `Pretani', the Greco-Roman word for the inhabitants of Britain. The Romans mispronounced the word and called the island `Britannia'.

British people live in the UK. They are people who live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. British people can also either be English, Scottish, Welsh, or Irish (from Northern Ireland only). The British are said to be reserved in manners, dress and speech. They are famous for their politeness, self-discipline and especially for their sense of humour. British people have a strong sense of humour which sometimes can be hard for foreigners to understand. Britain is a country of mixed cultures. London has the largest non-white population of any European city and over 250 languages are spoken there. Therefore not all British people are White or Christians.

However complicated the modern industrial state may be, land and climate affect life in every country. They affect social and economic life, population and politics. Britain is no exception. It has a milder climate than mush of the European mainland because it lies in the way of the Gulf Stream, which brings warn water and winds from the Gulf of Mexico. Within Britain there are differences of climate between north an south, east and west. The north is on average 5 C cooler than the south. Annual rainfall in the east is on average about 600 mm, while in many parts of the west it is more than double that. The countryside is varied also. The north and west are mountainous or hilly. Much of the south and east is fairly flat, or low-lying. This means that the south and east on the whole have better agricultural conditions, and it's possible to harvest crops in early August, two months earlier than the north. So it isn't surprising that southeast Britain has always been the most populated part of the island. For this reason it has always had the most political power.

Britain is an island, and Britain's history has been closely connected with the sea. Until modern times it was as easy to travel across water as it was across land, where roads were frequently unusable. At moments of great danger Britain has been saved from danger by it's surrounding seas. Britain's history and it's strong national sense have been shaped by the sea.

1.2 Britain's History

Britain has not always been an island. It had become one only after the end of the last ice age. Thousands of years ago, Great Britain was joined to Europe and was covered with ice. About 15,000 years ago, the weather became warmer: the temperature rose and the ice cap melted, flooding the lower-lying land that is now under the North Sea and the English Channel. Great Britain became an island about 8000 years ago.

Celtic people called Britons settles in Britain. They were warriors and farmers who were skilled metal workers. They built villages and hill forts, and used iron weapons and tools. Celts called Gaels lived in Ireland. The first men and women came to Britain over two and a half million years ago. They were hunters and gatherers of food who used simple stone tools and weapons.

The Romans were the first to invade us and came to Britain nearly 2000 years ago. They changed the country. The Roman Empire made its mark on Britain, and even today, the ruins of Roman buildings, forts, roads, and baths can be found all over Britain (Britain was part of the Roman Empire for almost 400 years). By the time the Roman armies left around 410 AD, they had established medical practice, a language of administration and law and had created great public buildings and roads. Because of this many English words are derived from the latin language of the Romans.

When the Romans they had gone there was no strong army to defend Britain, and tribes called the Angle, Saxon, and Jute (the Anglo-Saxons) invaded. They left their homelands in northern Germany, Denmark and northern Holland and rowed across the North Sea in wooden boats.

Towards the end of the 8th century new raiders were templed by Britain's wealth. These were the Vikings, a word which probably means either `pirates' or `the people of the sea inlets', and they came from Norway and Denmark. Like the Anglo-Saxons they only raided at first. They burnt churches and monasteries along the east , north and west coast of Britain and Ireland. London itself raided in 842.

The Middle Ages in Britain cover a huge period. They take us from the shock of the Norman Conquest, which began in 1066, to the devastating Black Death of 1348, the Hundred Years' War with France and the War of the Roses, which finally ended in 1485.

The Tudors were a Welsh-English family that ruled England from 1485 to 1603 - one of the most exciting periods of British history. During this time, Britain was a more stable and peaceful place than it had ever been. There were rebellions, and minor wars between England, Scotland and France. But the turmoil that had been experienced during the fifteenth century, with its civil wars and exhausting struggle against the French, was over for good.

The Stuarts had ruled Scotland since 1371, but James VI of Scotland was the first Stuart king of England.

The Victorians lived over one hundred and fifty years ago during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 to 1901) and it was a time of enormous change in this country. In 1837 most people lived in villages and worked on the land; by 1901, most lived in towns and worked in offices, shops and factories.

1.3 British Customs and Folk Traditions

The British, like the people of every country, tend to be attributed with certain characteristics which are supposedly typical. Britain is full of culture and traditions which have been around for hundreds of years. British customs and traditions are famous all over the world. When people think of Britain, they often think of people drinking tea, eating fish and chips and wearing bowler hats, but there is more to Britain than just those things. We have English and British traditions of sport, music, food and many royal occasions. There are also songs, sayings and superstitions.

British nation is considered to be the most conservative in Europe. It is not a secret that every nation and every country has its own customs and traditions. In Great Britain people attach greater importance to traditions and customs than in other European countries. Englishmen are proud of their traditions and carefully keep them up. The best examples are their queen, money system, their weights and measures.

If we look at English weights and measures, we can be convinced that the British are very conservative people. They do not use the internationally accepted measurements. They have conserved their old measures. There are nine essential measures. For general use, the smallest weight is one ounce, then 16 ounce is equal to a pound. Fourteen pounds is one stone. The English always give people's weight in pounds and stones. Liquids they measure in pints, quarts and gallons. There are two pints in a quart and four quarts or eight pints are in one gallon. For length, they have inches, feet, yards and miles. If we have always been used to the metric system therefore the English monetary system could be found rather difficult for us. They have a pound sterling, which is divided into twenty shillings, half-crown is cost two shillings and sixpence, shilling is worth twelve pennies and one penny could be changed by two halfpennies.

There are many customs and some of them are very old. There is, for example, the Marble Championship, where the British Champion is crowned; he wins a silver cup known among folk dancers as Morris Dancing. Morris Dancing is an event where people, worn in beautiful clothes with ribbons and bells, dance with handkerchiefs or big sticks in their hands, while traditional music sounds.

Another example is the Boat Race, which takes place on the river Thames, often on Easter Sunday. A boat with a team from Oxford University and one with a team from Cambridge University hold a race. British people think that the Grand National horse race is the most exciting horse race in the world. It takes place near Liverpool every year. Sometimes it happens the same day as the Boat Race takes place, sometimes a week later. Amateur riders as well as professional jockeys can participate.

Halloween is a day on which many children dress up in unusual costumes. In fact, this holiday has a Celtic origin. The day was originally called All Halloween's Eve, because it happens on October 31, the eve of all Saint's Day. The name was later shortened to Halloween. The Celts celebrated the coming of New Year on that day.

Another tradition is the holiday called Bonfire Night. On November 5, 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament where the king James the 1st was to open Parliament on that day. But Guy Fawkes was unable to realize his plan and was caught and later, hanged. The British still remember that Guy Fawkes Night. It is another name for this holiday. This day one can see children with figures, made of sacks and straw and dressed in old clothes. On November 5th, children put their figures on the bonfire, burn them, and light their fireworks.

In the end of the year, there is the most famous New Year celebration. In London, many people go to Trafalgar Square on New Year's Eve. There is singing and dancing at 12 o'clock on December 31st. A popular Scottish event is the Edinburgh Festival of music and drama, which takes place every year. A truly Welsh event is the Eisteddfod, a national festival of traditional poetry and music, with a competition for the best new poem in Welsh.

The British are masters of the weird and wacky. From cheese rolling in Gloucestershire and fireball whirling in Scotland, to Morris Men dancing and banging sticks, or hobby horses terrorizing villages on May Day, there are wonderfully eccentric traditions all over the British Isles. Most have origins lost in antiquity. No one cares how they got going - the point is to have a good time.

Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire

Spain may have the running of the bulls in Pamplona, but in England the daredevil event of the year is the annual wacky race, the Cheese-Rolling on Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire.

Once a year, as they have done for hundreds of years, young men and women hurl themselves down a hill so steep that it is impossible to remain standing, in pursuit of a seven or eight pound wheel of locally made Double Gloucester cheese.

No one knows exactly when the tradition of people throwing themselves down Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, south east of Gloucester, began but it was already a well-established Whitsun event in the early 1800s. It's now a regular feature of the Spring Bank Holiday. Thousands come to watch and able-bodied cheese-rolling racers come from all over the world.

The Lusty Month of May

May is probably the sexiest month of the year in Britain. Before May Day became entangled with international Left Wing politics, it was associated, throughout England, with all things fertile, green and juicy. In the smaller villages of England, especially those of the south and southwest, it's still a time for letting one's hair down and celebrating the most primal forces of life. The month kicks off at dawn on May 1 in Cerne Abbas, a small village north of Dorchester in Dorset, when the Wessex Morris Men, along with various new agers, neopagans and other mystical types dance on the Cerne Abbas Giant, the UK's most suggestive landmark.

The Haxey Hood

Nobody is quite sure how the tradition of the Haxey Hood began but it has been going on between the villagers of Haxey and Westwoodside, in North Lincolnshire, for at least 700 years. The most common story is that one Lady de Mowbray lost her silken hood to a gust of wind and various brave locals took off after it. In gratitude for the adventure, she created the celebration, named all the participants - The Fool, The Boggins and the Lord of the Hood, and gave all the participants a strip of land. Sounds like a lot of fuss over a hat to me. Today crowds of gigantic men tussle for possession of the hood in what looks like a precursor to Rubgy on mega steroids.

The Best Winter Fire Festivals in Scotland

Combine the primitive impulse to light up the long nights, the ancient idea that fire purifies and chases away evil spirits and the natural Scottish impulse to party to the wee small hours and you end up with some of the best mid-winter celebrations in Europe. At one time, most Scottish towns celebrated the New Year with huge bonfires and torchlight processions. Most have now disappeared, but those that are left are real humdingers.

The Rochester Sweeps

This is a modern revival of an old tradition. Up until the mid 19th century, children worked as chimney sweeps. When summer came they had a lot to celebrate as they could resume their trade. Today in Rochester, a Kentish town associated with Charles Dickens, The Sweeps Festival commemorates those celebrations with three days of Morris Dancing in the streets.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

The Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is a truly magical time to be there. It's an ad hoc celebration that brings together England's New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) with ordinary families, travellers and party people. For many the impulse to arrive at Stonehenge in time for the Solstice is a little like all those people drawn to the strange rock in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's akin to a spiritual experience.

Anyone who has witnessed the crowd become silent as the sky begins to brighten can attest to that.

Up Helly Aa

Shetland, part of Norway for at least 500 years, has a rich Viking heritage and one thing the Vikings seemed to do well was throw a wild party. Viking sagas are full of stories of raids and marauding, followed by lots of drinking and celebrating. Up Helly Aa is a 24 hour party that includes costumed Viking events throughout the day and culminates in a torchlight parade and the burning of a Viking long boat. The galley, that is sent to a flaming inferno at sea, may have taken local Up Helly Aa associations four months or more to build. At least 5,000 spectators come to watch more than 1,000 torch carrying "Vikings", in silver plates and helmets, with heavy axes and shields, march the galley around the town.

1.4 Traditional Holidays

Britain is a country governed by routine. It has fewer public holidays than any other country in Europe (Nothern Ireland has two extra ones, however). There are almost no semi-official holidays either. Most official holidays occur either just before or just after a weekend. The origin of the word `holiday' is `holy day', but not all public holidays are connected with religious celebrations.

There are the following holidays in England, Northern Ireland and Wales

Table 1: Official holidays in Britain




January 1

New Year' Day

Nothern Ireland only (this was not an officially recognised public holiday in Nothern Ireland until the peace process went into place then became a holiday)

March 17

St. Patrick's day

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast--on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.


Good Friday

On Good Friday, Christians remember the day when Jesus was crucified on a cross. Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday (Easter Day). The date of the first Good Friday will never be known.


Easter Monday

Easter Monday is a Christian holiday celebrated the next day after Easter Sunday. Early Christians celebrated the days immediately following Easter - the most important holy day in the Christian Church-by telling jokes playing pranks, and feasting on lamb. People would add fragrant oil or perfume to the Easter water they brought home from church, and then use this water to sprinkle and bless their food, pets, gardens, and homes

1st Monday in May

May Day Bank Holiday

May Day occurs on May 1 and refers to several public holidays. In many countries, May Day is synonymous with International Workers' Day, or Labour Day, a day of political demonstrations and celebrations organized by the unions, communists, anarchists, and socialist groups. May Day is also a traditional holiday in many cultures.

Last Monday in May

Spring Bank holiday

The Spring Bank Holiday weekending the United Kingdom on the last Monday in May, now replaces what used to be known as Whitsuntide a moveable date depending on what day Easter fell. The name Whitsuntide or Whit Sunday became known as it proved a very popular day for baptism and so associated with white clothing therefore developing from White Sunday.

July 12

Orangeman's Holiday

People in Northern Ireland annually celebrate Orangemen's Day to commemorate the Battle of Boyne, which occurred on Ireland's east coast in 1690. It is a bank holiday on or after July 12 and often features marches. This day is known as "Orangemen's Day", "Orange Day", "the Glorious Twelfth" or just "the Twelfth".

December 25

Christmas Day

In many parts of the world, Christmas is the day when people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. People who remember Christmas as a religious holiday celebrate the birth of Jesus and his coming into this world. To them, he is recognized as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. According to the Bible, Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room for him and his parents, Mary and Joseph, in an inn. Today, people often attend church, organize family gatherings, and decorate their homes and businesses (with real or artificial Christmas trees). People feel the giving spirit and donate their time and money to worthy causes, or provide volunteer service to the needy. Christmas is also celebrated as a secular holiday when parents and children talk about Santa Claus and Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer.

December 26

Boxing Day

It is a statutory holiday in the federal jurisdiction and in Ontario. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the working day immediately preceding or following Boxing Day is considered a legal holiday.

1.5 Religious Views of People in Britain

Britain is a multi faith society in which everyone has the right to religious freedom. Although Britain is historically a Christian society, people are usually very tolerant towards the faiths of others and those who have no religious beliefs.

Table 2 : The UK Population by Religion, 2001


Population, thds




















Other religions



All religions



No religion



Not stated



All no religion/ not stated






1.6 Stereotypes

In their private everyday lives, the British as individuals are probably less inclined to follow tradition than are the people of most other countries. There are very few ancient customs that are followed by majority of families on special occasions. The country has fewer local parades of processions with genuine folk roots that most other countries have. The English language has fewer sayings or proverbs that are in common everyday use than many other languages do. The British are too individualistic for these things. In addition, it should be noted that they are the most enthusiastic video-watching people in the world - the very opposite of a traditional pastime!

There are many examples of supposedly typical British habits which are simply not typical any more. For example, the stereotype image of the London `city gent' includes the wearing of a bowler hat. In fact, this type of hat has not been commonly worn for a long time. Food and drink provide other examples. The traditional `English' breakfast is a large `fry-up' preceded by cereal with milk and followed by toast, butter and marmalade, all washed down with lots of tea. In fact, only about 10% of the people in Britain have this sort of breakfast. Two-thirds have cut the fry-up and just have the cereal, tea and toast. The rest have even less. What the vast majority of British people have in the mornings is therefore much closer to what they call a 'continental' (i.e European) breakfast than it is to a 'British' one. The image of the British as a nation of tea-drinkers is another stereotype which is somewhat out of date. It is true that it's still prepared in a distinctive way (strong and with milk), but more coffee than tea is now bought in the country's shops. As for the tradition of afternoon tea with biscuits, scones, sandwiches and cake, this is a minority activity, largely confined to retired people and the leisured upper-middle class (although preserved in tea shops in tourist resorts).

1.7 The love of nature

Most of British live in towns and cities. But they have an idealized vision of the countryside, which means peace and quiet, beauty, good health and no crime. The village would consist of thatched cottages built around an area of grass known as a `village green'. Nearby, there would be a pond with ducks on it. Nowadays such a village is not actually very common, but it is a stereotypical picture that is well-known to the British. The love of the countryside is another aspect of British conservatism. The countryside represents stability. Those who live in towns and cities take an active interest in country matters. Large areas of the country are official `national parks' where almost no building is allowed. Many British people still spend a lot of their time with `nature' even if they cannot get into the countryside. They grow plants. Gardening is one of the most popular hobbies of the country. Each local authority owns several areas of land, which it rents very cheaply to these people in small parcels. On these `allotments', people grow mainly vegetables.

The British tend to have sentimental attitude to animals. Nearly half of the households in Britain keep at least one domestic pet. The status of pets is taken seriously. It is, for example, illegal to run over a dog in your car and then keep on driving. The love of animals goes beyond sentimental attachment to domestic pets. Millions of families have `bird-tables' in their gardens, platforms on which birds can feed, safe from local cats, during the winter months. There is even a special hospital, which treats injured wild animals.

This overall concern for animals is part of the British love of nature. 

1.8 Formality and informality

The difference between formalities and informality is the key to what people from other countries sometimes experience as a coldness among the British. The key is this: being friendly in Britain often involves showing that you are not bothering with the formalities. To address someone by his or her title or to say `please' is to observe formalities and therefore to put a distance between the people involved. The same is true of shaking hands. Most people would do it only when being introduced to a stranger or when meeting an acquaintance after a long time.

It is probably true that the British are more reserved than the people of many other countries. They find it comparatively difficult to indicate friendship by open displays of affection. For example, it is not the convention to kiss when meeting a friend. Instead, friendship is symbolized by behaving as casually as possible.

In the last decades of the twentieth century, the general amount of informality increased. At the same time, the traditional reserve has also been breaking down.

1.9 English and British

National loyalties can be strong among the people in Britain whose ancestors were not English. For people living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the way that ethnic identity commonly expresses itself varies. People in Scotland have constant reminders of their distinctiveness. First, several aspects of public life are organised separately, and differently, from the rest of Britain. Second, the Scottish way of speaking English is very distinctive. A modern form of the dialect known as Scots is spoken in everyday life by by most of the working classes in the lowlands. It has many features and cannot usually be understood by people who are not Scottish. Third, there are many symbols of Scottishness which are well-known throughout Britain, i.e. the kilts, the pipes, the haggis.

The people of Wales do not have as many reminders of their Welshness in everyday life, they are more similar to that in England. However, there is one single highly-important symbol of Welsh identity - the Welsh language. Everybody in Wales can speak English, but it is not everybody's first language. For about 20% of the population (more than half a million people), the mother-tongue is Welsh. Moreover, in comparison to the other small minority languages of Europe, Welsh shows signs of continued vitality.

The question of identity in Northern Ireland is a much more complex issue.

As for English identity, most people who describe themselves as English usually make no distinction in their minds between `English' and `British. '

Because English culture dominates the culture of other three nations of the British Isles, everyday habits, attitudes and values among the people of the four nations are very similar. However, they're not identical, and what is often regarded as typically British may in fact be only typically English.

Nearly everybody in the country is capable of using standard English (or something very close to it) when they judge that the situation demands it. They are taught to do so at school. The clearest indication of a person's class is often his or her accent. Most people cannot change this convincingly to suit the situation. The most prestigious accent in Britain is known as `Received Pronunciation' (RP). It is the combination of standard English spoken with an RP accent that is usually meant when people talk about `BBC English' or `Oxford English' or `the Queen's English'.

The British continue to be very bad about learning other peoples' languages. Fluency in any European language other than English is generally regarded as exotic. But there is nothing defensive or deliberate about this attitude. The British do not refuse to speak other languages. They are just lazy in accordance with researchers' opinion.

1.10 Family Life in Britain

The family in Britain is changing. The once typical British family headed by two parents has undergone substantial changes during the twentieth century. In particular there has been a rise in the number of single-person households, which increased from 18 to 29 per cent of all households between 1971 and 2002. By the year 2020, it is estimated that there will be more single people than married people. Fifty years ago this would have been socially unacceptable in Britain.

In the past, people got married and stayed married. Divorce was very difficult, expensive and took a long time. Today, people's views on marriage are changing. Many couples, mostly in their twenties or thirties, live together (cohabit) without getting married. Only about 60% of these couples will eventually get married.

In the past, people married before they had children, but now about 40% of children in Britain are born to unmarried (cohabiting) parents. In 2000, around a quarter of unmarried people between the ages of 16 and 59 were cohabiting in Great Britain. Cohabiting couples are also starting families without first being married. Before 1960 this was very unusual, but in 2001 around 23 per cent of births in the UK were to cohabiting couples.

People are generally getting married at a later age now and many women do not want to have children immediately. They prefer to concentrate on their jobs and put off having a baby until late thirties.

The number of single-parent families is increasing. This is mainly due to more marriages ending in divorce, but some women are also choosing to have children as lone parents without being married.

On average 2.4 people live as a family in one home Britain. This is smaller than most other European countries.

1.11 British Cuisine

After years of disparagement by various countries (especially the French), Britain now has an enviable culinary reputation. In fact, some of the great chefs now come from Britain.

However Britain's culinary expertise is not new. In the past British cooking was almost the best in the world. Mrs Beeton is still one of the renowned writers of cookery books, her creations have now gained international popularity, years after her death.

Traditional British cuisine is substantial, yet simple and wholesome. They have long believed in four meals a day. Their fare has been influenced by the traditions and tastes from different parts of the British empire: teas from Ceylon and chutney, kedgeree, and mulligatawny soup from India.

2. Belarus

2.1 Belarus

The Republic of Belarus is situated in the centre of Europe in the extreme western part of the East-European Plain within the basins of the Dnieper, the Western Dvina and the Upper Neman It borders on Poland in the west, the Baltic states - Lithuania and Latvia - in the north-west, on the Russian Federation in the east and on Ukraine in the south Belarus is situated at the crossroads of trade routes from west to east and from north to south Belarus occupies the territory of 207,6 thousand square km. It's quite a compact country It stretches for 560 km from north to south and for 650 km from west to east By the size of its territory, Belarus is the 13th among the European countries and the 6th among the CIS countries The area of Belarus is slightly smaller than that of Great Britain Its population is about 10,3 million people, 78% of whom are Belarusians Representatives of more than 100 ethnic groups live in Belarus Most people in Belarus about 64% live in towns and cities Belarus is situated on a plain rising to hills, the highest of which is Dzierzhinsky Hill reaching 350 m above the sea level About twenty thousand rivers and streams run in all directions across the country Their distinctive feature is that half of them flow into the Baltic Sea, the other half into the Black Sea Seven of them are more than 500 km long each They are the Dnieper, the Neman, the Western Dvina, the Pripyat, the Berezina, the Sozh and the Vilia.

The climate of Belarus is moderate continental with mild and humid winters, warm summers and rainy days in autumn.The average temperature in January is minus 5-8 degrees Celsius and that in July is plus 20 C even though Belarus is a land-locked country, its climate is strongly influenced by the Baltic Sea.

2.2 Belarusian History

The history of Belarus begins about 100 - 40 thousand years ago when ancient people, overcoming severe climate of the Glacial Age, have lodged on the southern territories of Belarus. In written sources the Belarusian lands are mentioned in the 6th century B.C. Herodotus of Halikarnas wrote in his “History” about the mysterious people of Neuri that had occupied the territories to the North of Scythia.

During the epoch of the High Middle Ages the territory of Belarus was a part of Ruthenia. In the 13th century their prompt development was stopped by intrusions of the German Crusaders and Mongol-Tartar Nomads. But they were not able to occupy Belarus. In the13 - 18th centuries Belarus was a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At this particular time the Belarusians were issued as an independent nation. The old-Belarusian language was official in Lithuania. Moreover, Belarus itself was called as Lithuania, and its inhabitants - as Lithuanians. In the 16th century in Vilnia, the capital of the Grand Duchy, Frantishak Skaryna founded his first printing house and published his own translation of the Bible. Thus the Belarusians became one of the first people of Europe that had the opportunity to read the Holy Scripts in their own native language.

At the end of the 18 - the beginning of 19th centuries Belarus was occupied by Russia. Despite of Polonization and Russification, the Belarusians were able to survive as the nation. In 1918 the Belarusian National Republic was proclaimed.

In 1991, Belarus achieved the real independence.

Belarusian Customs and Folk Traditions

The people of Belarus are a kind, friendly and good humoured nation. The patience and peacefulness of the Belarusian people has been determined by the nation's history that has been darkened by endless wars which the Belarusians did not start, but fell victim to. Belarus is welcoming to all visitors and interested in sharing its culture, traditions and sense of community with them.

Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the population. But because of the history of Belarus, many other nationalities have also settled in the country, many of whom have been established for several generations.

Belarusian and Russian are the official languages of Belarus. Other languages such as Polish, Ukrainian and Hebrew are spoken within local communities.

Pagan celebrations

Before 990 A.D. belarusians (several eastern slavic and baltic tribes, mostly Kryvichi and their branches, Jatviags, Lits) were pagans. They believed in the God of Sun - Yaryla, celebrated seasons of nature according to sun and moon calendar. The cycles of folk songs that were sang at these celebrations still exist. The main festivities are listed below.

"Spring Greeting"- is a cycle of celebrations designed to "awake' mother Earth from the winter sleep which was important for such agricultural people as belarusians. This cycle includes such holidays as "Maslenitsa", "Vialikdzen'" (Easter), "Yur'ya" and others. Each celebration is characterized by specific cycles of "vesnavyia" (spring) songs. The most ancient celebration is "Yur'ia". Yur'ia is in fact christianized name for pagan God-Sun - Yaryla. The typical ritual on Yur'ia (reflected in "yur'iauskiia" songs is calling for Yaryla (Yur'ya), the Sun-God, to bring out the keys and open his mothers (Earth, Nature) womb - to let out the grass, and flowers, and animals. As usual these holidays are also celebrated by specific ritual food - eggs (symbol of life in most of indo-european cultures), pancakes (circle is an important magical shape - it depicts sun).

Kupalle (Solstace, June 21) - is the most loved and charished pagan holiday in contemporary Belarus. The tradition is very ancient. Under different names this holiday is celebrated by all peoples of indo-european group. During the summer Solstice, Yaryla (God-Sun) was reaching its biggest power. Kupalle - is a gedonistic summer celebration of the lands fertillity in the name of a female God - Kupala. It seems like she is considered a lunar Goddess by some pagan sources, although direct translation of the name is "She Who Bathes". Lately it was renamed into a christian celebration of a male saint - Ivan Kupala. There is a whole complex of traditional rituals, beliefs, love and agricultural magic. Supposedly in ancient times Kupalle was celebrated in the night from July 6 to July 7. During the day of July 6 young girls were going into the meadows to collect different "kupal'skiia" (made on Kupalle) plants and remedies - corn, flower, ferns, etc. It was considered that the plants gathered at this time have particular strengths for curing and magic. Part of these plants were used in food. Some plants were used for magical protection and the wreaths of these plants were put on the walls of the houses to protect against bad spirits. Some of the plants were used in the "kupal'skiia" wreaths which were weared on the head by young men and women during Kupalle celebration. Here is more of the description of Kupalle among ancient eastern slavs from the Saint Petersburg's Naturist Society.

The central part in Kupalle celebration was a fire. This fire was symbolizing life and Yaryla, and was expelling deathj. During the day young men would prepare the place to start ther fire. They would go around the village collecting old things - clothes, broken barrels - and would take them out to the chosen for festivity place. Usually it would be a meadow, a forest glade, a bank of a river. Guys would. Then later the youth would go around the village calling with their special Kupalle songs for the celebration. Special ritual food was cooked on the fire - fried eggs (egg symbolized both sun and life), kulaha (a sort of a puding made of wheat powder), vareniki (dumplings stuffed with berries - blueberries, cherries, raspberies). The oiled wooden wheel would be set on fire to symbolize sun.

Kupalle usually involves youth going into the forests and the meadows, wearing flower and grass garlands and wreaths on their heads. There will be many rituals ofl purification practiced - jumping through the fire, bathing in the river or rolling in the grass dew. There would be a lot of dancing in karagods, competing in strength. A popular type of magic practiced on Kupalle night was fortune telling. The girls would put their wreaths on the water and let the river carry them. The one that would come to the bank or get entangled with another mean that there will be a marriage. Also it was believed that if you pick the leaf of plantain growing at the crossroads and put it under the pillow - you are verylikely to dream your future spouse on Kupalle night. One could burn a bunch of flux plants in Kupalle fire and chant:"Flux, give birth", to increase its crops.

It was believed once in a year on Kupalle night near the midnight the fern has a glowing flower - "Paparac'-kvetka". The lucky couple that would find it would live happily and would be able to foresee the future. It was believed that on Kupalle night rivers are glowing with a special light, trees can speak in the human language and even walk from place to place. It was believed that the Sunset on Kupalle night is special. The Sun sets down "playing" - dividing into concentric circles that expand and contract.

It was also believed that the witches could spoil things on this night. Different ways to protect yourself and your household were used. You could put garlands of special plants that have magical protective properties on the outside of your house. You can put into your rye burning coals from Kupalle fire. Of course the hands of working women were protected by red ornament on the sleves. Sometimes to be completely safe you have to drive all your cattle through the purifying Kupalle fire. The purifying power of Kupalle fire was so believed that people would dry out on it the shirts of the sick to cure them, or bring little children close to it to expell all bad spirits.

Dzyady - prechristian celebration originating from the cult of ancestors. It is a ritual dinner (a sort of wake) for commemoration of the dead relatives. Usually "Dziady" is also called the day on which the ritual is performed and the same name is used for the commemorated dead persons. Dziady was celebrated during particular days 3-4 times a year (depends on the region). The main Dziady were "asianiny" - on the first Saturday preceeding St. Dzmitry day (October 26). Also Dziady were celebrated in early spring on "radaunitsa", "maslenitsa" and "siomuha". The special ritual food is cooked for Dziady dinner - "kyccia" (fine barley porridge with berries), "bliny" (pancakes), fried eggs, meat. According to the tradition part of the food and drink is left in a special plate and glass for the dead. At this day families are going to the graveyards to take care of the graves. Sometimes the have food by the grave. Then it is customary to pour some vodka on a grave. Unlike Haloween it's a light holiday of commemoration of dead. It does not involve any blood, fake teeth and other satanic stuff.

Kaliady (December 25 - January 7) - prechristian celebration of the end of year. It comes from Latin "Calendae", which is the name for the first day of each month. Another version of the origin of the word is the word "Kola" (the wheel) which is related tothe turn of the year. In the annual cycle of folk rituals and celebrations this holiday was the beginning. Later it was very nicely adopted for Christmas celebration by Orthodox and Catholic churches. Sine the Catholic Christmas is on December 25 and the Orthodox Christmas is on January 5 - Kaliady are now celebrated between these two dates. The ritual food was cooked for three ritual dinners: "posnaia viachera"(Engl.: fasting dinner) with no meat or fat in the beginning, "toustaia"(Engl.: fat) or "miasnaia" (Engl.: "meat") dinner with meat, eggs and sweets on New Year Eve and the last one - "halodnaia" (Engl.: hungry) or "vadzianaia" (Engl.: watery) at the end of Kaliady. During Kaliady there were a lot of fun going on. Folks would dress themselves as animals and fantastic beasts,  carry the sun and the goat's head on a stick and visit different houses  trick-or-treating. They would sing special Kaliady carrols in which the performers greet the house owners, wish them success and plentitude. The youth were playing games, perform in folk theatre plays for public, "skamarohs" would entertain the crowd, play jokes on people.

These are the popular holidays that have roots in pagan celebrations and stand out most.

2.4 Christian Holidays

Here is the whole calendar of the year cycle of holidays and special days. The main holidays are outlined in bold. Most of the traditional agricultural activity was tied up to particular days. The longterm weather forecasts were often made judging on the weather on particular day. Already the translations of the month names in Belarusian characterise the seasons:

Studzen' (January) - "Cold" month.

Liuty (February) - "Angry" month.

Sakavik (March) - "Juicy" month.

Krasavik (April) - "Beautiful" month.

Traven' (Maj) - "Grassy" month.

Cherven' (JUne) - "Red" month, which could also mean "beautiful".

Lipen' (July) - "Linden-Tree Blooming" month.

Zhniven' (August) - "Harvesting" month.

Verasen' (September) - "Verasok Blooming" month. Verasok is a local plant.

Kastrychnik (October) - "Fires" month. Peasants are burning leaves and grass.

Listapad (November) - "Leaves Fall" month.

Snezhan' (December) - "Snowy" month.

Table 4: Religious Holidays of Belarus


Name of the Holiday


January 1

New Year Eve


January 5

Halodnaia kuccia (Kaliady)


January 6



January 18


St. Apanas is a protector of cattle from frost. Middle of the winter in terms of food stored for cattle

January 24



February 2



February 5


Sanctified food in church to protect house and cattle against fire.

Saturday before "Miasapusnaia Niadzielia"

Dziady (Fat Saturday)

First commemorative Dziady

Miasapusnaia Niadzielia



Masliany Tydzen'



February 11



Maslianaia Niadzielia



Great Fast (7 weeks)



March 1



March 4


On St. Ryhor Day winter is melting into a sea.

March 9



Wednesday on 4th day of Great Fast


The type of weather on thuis day would show whether there will be wet or dry summer.

March 1



March 25



Sunday on Verbny Tydzen



April 2


On St. Palikarp day peasants often begin to run out of bread and hunger starts.

Thursday on the Vialikdny Tydzen' (Easter week)

Chysty Chacver (Clean Thursday)

The last day of Christ's life before crucifiction.

Sunday on Easter Week

Vialikdzen' (Easter)


April 11


Is a saint of medicine men

April 15


Time for sowing hemp

April 16


Sowing of cabbage

April 17


Saint of bee-keepers

Thursday after Easter

Vialikdzen' Miortvyh (Easter of Dead)

Relatives attend graves of dead in Palesse region

Second Tuesday after Easter


Dziady celebration

Following Wednesday

Hradavaia serada (Hailing Wednesday)

Any agricultural works are forbidden or else hail will destroy crops in the summer

April 23


The greeting of spring

April 24


Time to sow oats

April 25


If it rains on this day, then there will be no night frosts anymore

April 30


First warm days

May 2

Barys and Hlieb

Sowing of summer wheat and rye

May 8

Ivan Bahaslou

Sowing of carrots, cucumbers, beats

May 9



May 15



5th Friday after Easter

Hradabojnaia Piatnica

Again no agricultural work is allowed to prevent the summer

May 21


Sowing of flux

May 22


First songs of nightingales

Thursday on the 6th week after Easter (40th day)


The protective majical ritual "Strala" was performed

Saturday on the 7th week

Traeckiia (siomushnyia) Dziady

Another Dziady commemoration of dead

Following Sunday

Siomooha (Troitsa - Trinity)


Following Thursday of traecki tydzen' (trinity week)

Dzeviatnik, suhi chacver (Dry Thursday)

Agricultural work is forbidden to prevent drought

Next after traecki tydzen'

Rusal'ny tydzen' (mermaid week)

Mermaids were believed to come out of water and hide in the wheat field. Then they would stop lonely travelers and tickle them to death.


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