Christmas – a holiday in honor of a winter solstice – lasts two week and consists of a series of rites and customs of a national calendar devoted to honoring of our ancestors and the beginning of New Year. Limit of a holiday are three dinner – three «Kucci» («kuccia» – ceremonial porridge) which is going to be sure the whole family. The first and third a dinner – Lenten, consist of seven dishes (figure 7 symbolizes the family as a pot with Christmas Eve porridge from which have received the name of a dinner) and the second – non Lenten, rich which carries the name «Lavish» (since this is Christmas night, the courses on the table has to be 12 – so much, how many month in year). From the Rich «Kucci» and all evening called «Lavish». «Lavish» evening is called also because people not only have supper at a rich table (that also the whole year it was), but also presented with fat, sausages, pies and other delicacies, and also money of representatives of a rural community. Participants of the rite «Lavish» changed into animals, birds and people who symbolized the ancestors. Most of charters this New Year carnival clothes were inside out (turned out casings, hats – wool was symbol of wealth), old clothes, extended from box or even tattered. Before it burned after rite and themselves at Epiphany plunged into an ice-hole with water to clear. Changed in generally boys and young men, because for women clash with «other world» was considered dangerous. In Palessie men’s groups asked and went «in a trestle» separately, and women's «Ščadruchi» - in their festively dressed girls were and women sang beautiful ceremonial songs. Children’s groups went on the morning in the first day of New Year on the «Vasiłle» and «seeded» (scattered rye on half of the house, imitating having sat down at the field, reminding that the sun has turned for the summer, time to prepare for work in the field, and also wanted a good harvest in new agricultural year).
The Carnival as ceremonial and spectacular action with the atmosphere of other life (masks are from «other world») allows to do all that is impossible according to the standard rules of conduct in usual life (in «this world»). Carnival traditions at Belarusians exist almost on all big holidays of a national calendar and family rites, however the Christmas carnival has the set of masks and regional features.
In Palessie main character of Christmas rites (performed on the first three days after Christmas) and the «Lavish» evening (in the night on the Old New Year, to according Orthodox tradition) – this is «Nanny-goat» or «Goat».
Masks of this character still exist the most various: the real head of the killed nanny-goat or made of a sheepskin, a tree, straw, put on a cane is also covered with a cover (it the guy covered with a cover holds or in turned out a casing - in this case the head of a goat was attached on an arch). But often nanny-goat But more often the nanny-goat stamped legs – the action directed to awakening of the earth from a winter dream. Still Old man or Gypsy for the same purpose quilted a floor a whip. Whip they «drilled» Nanny-goat and the Horse. The Nanny-goat in a ceremony jumped, and then felled – died (in Davyd-Haradok falls the Horse) as the earth in the winter, but «came to life» after the owner or the hostess presented with a Christmas carol (sausages as a symbol of "Golden Age", wealth, and with them and fat – all this dishes from the killed boar who is considered an animal which offered to a solar deity), bread or pie – the victim for the sake of a good harvest of grain, vodka – that remembered ancestors, now give money - that in this house money was conducted. And in general owners give who that can for kind wishes. Belarusians today believe in what has been said at certain times of the word and keep traditions of their ancestors.
Among masks of animals first of all it is necessary to call the BEAR. Belarusians honor the bear since the Neolithic times and it is connected with the pagan cult of Viales –God of the underground world, who patronized the domestic and wild animals, working on human fertility, so every family, every community in ancient times worshiped him. This character is not only single Slavonic, but also European-wide. The mask of a bear exists very widely on Belarus in Christmas ceremonialism. In calendar code to bear the period of winter is allocated, for a wolf - summer. The mask the WOLF also is in a Christmas carnival of residents of Palessie, mainly, in the West. I saw sich a mask in the Kobrynski district and in the Stolinski district in Davyd-Haradok. If the bear symbolizes strength, health, with a hare (I had a chance to see how the character jumps in the ritual in the Staražoŭcy village, Žytkavicki district) connected hosts wish to be agile, nimble, swift movements.
Old man and Old woman symbolizes our ancestors. They are dressed in the self-woven clothes which are kept in boxes as memory of talent and work of hands of ancestors who made clothes and footwear own hands from the raw materials which are grown up by them. Old man usually conducts to Nanny-goat, and the Old woman bears a bag in which collects a Christmas carol. Still go the Gypsy who sells a horse, the Gypsy woman with the child who guesses, the Stork or the Crane... In Kobrynski district I saw a goose in a ceremony (the effigy is born on hands), in Žytkavicki district – a magpie which brings a good news. Birds it is connected with the South – together with them souls of the dead depart to the other world and returned in the spring, will help take care of the offspring in the harvest. Variants of the rite and the characters of the Christmas carnival lot.
According to the article of Regina Gamzovich