The Belarusian people remember not only the great battles and fights: the traditions and customs of ancestors are also kept in people’s memory. Some of them are even included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Belarusian folklore and folk traditions, which have passed the test of time and despite the past bans preserved their charm, have become the basis for many tourist events attracting visitors to the country. During the year, national holidays related to the events of the historical past of Belarus are held in all the regions of the country.
The only pagan holiday legalized by the Orthodox Church — Maslenitsa, or Cheese Week — is widely celebrated across the country. Each of the seven days of fun, entertainment and pancakes has its own name (“Meeting”, “Zaigryshi”, “Gourmand”) and traditions.
The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny (pancakes or crepes). Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition that week: butter, eggs and milk. During pagan times, the round and golden shape and color signified praise to the Sun because of pancakes' resemblance to it.
Maslenitsa activities also include snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings and plenty of sleigh rides. In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its traditional activity: one day for sleigh-riding, another for the sons-in-law to visit their parents-in-law, another day for visiting the godparents, etc. The mascot of the celebration is usually a brightly dressed straw effigy of Maslenitsa.
As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evening, Lady Maslenitsa is stripped of her finery and put to the flames of a bonfire. Any remaining blintzes are also thrown on the fire and Lady Maslenitsa's ashes are buried in the snow (to "fertilize the crops").