Belarus is one of the few countries in the world, where people celebrate the Old New Year. “What the hell?” one might ask. Well, no kidding, we actually do that!
The Old New Year is an official holiday that stems from the reluctance and XVI centrury.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian one, correcting mathematical inconsistencies.
Most Catholic countries immediately adopted the calendar and its January 1 start.
Orthodox Russia did not adopt it for official purposes until after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918. But even when it did, the Orthodox Church continued to use the Julian calendar.
So New Year became a holiday which is celebrated by both calendars: January 1 (New New Year) and January 14 (Old New Year)
The tradition of celebrating the coming of the New Year twice is widely enjoyed in ex-USSR countries – Belarus, Russia, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Ukraine and some other places.
Old New Year is not an officially-recognized holiday and workers are not given the day off for it, but many people take the celebration of the Old New Year rather seriously.
Because it is a great way to prolong the New Year’s celebrations and wish all the wishes they didn’t have time for on 31 December 😉
People say “So Starym Novym Godom!”, which means an odd “Happy Old New Year!” and have a lot of fun.
Some see it as a nostalgic holiday and spend it at large family gatherings where they eat and sing carols.
Others see it as simply another reason to go out and party with their friends and colleagues, especially if it falls during a weeknight, like in 2017.
The holiday is also interesting because it combines secular traditions of bringing in the New Year with the Christian Orthodox Christmastide customs, such as Kalyada.
Kalyada is an ancient Slavic winter rite, with people, especially youth, dressing in traditional costumes and walking house to house greeting people, singing, dancing, giving best wishes and receiving candy and small money in return.
The action is called kalyadavannie.
Kalyada is popular in rural areas but enthusiasts may do it in offices to have fun with colleagues.
So remember to give Happy Old New Year wishes to your Belarusian friends tomorrow!