Modern Belarusians gathered in Viazynka for the calling of spring in accordance with the traditions of our ancestors.
In many places, the calling of spring began with the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. In some places the calling started when nature was really waking up, and, as a rule, this ceremony lasted a few days. It was impossible to live without it: our ancestors believed that the living forces of the earth can wake up only if they are carefully asked about it.
The "EuroBelarus" Information Service visited the ancient festival, which was organized by the Viazynka Student Ethnographic Association (SEA) and Yanka Kupala’s State Literary Museum.
For our ancestors, any action and any rite had its deep meaning. Round dances, games, and dancing were organized in order to "dance down" spring, fasten its arrival, the experts reveal the secret.
The calling of spring in Viazynka started from singing groups "calling one another" from different sides of the river. Girls in groups went on a distance form each other and wailed: "Agu, Spring! Agu, beautiful! What did you bring us?"
- Such "callings of one another" are known in traditional lifestyle - as soon as thawed paths appeared, the girls would come out on the hill, climb on roofs and haystacks, and call the spring. They could get an "answer" from a singing group on the other side of the village, or even from the neighboring village. Songs made the village alive. The lamentations that arose after the Chernobyl disaster use the words "no one responds to the calling of spring" as a metaphor for death,” – a member of the Students' Ethnographic Association Alena Liashkevich told.
Ritual songs that are also called viasniankas, should be long, so that the spring hears them well comes quickly.
Then the girls in beautiful national costumes (each of them was special, tailored by the owners themselves) came together on the hill and started singing viasniankas in turns. The exemplary children's folklore ensemble “Kalychanka” (Belarusian "Lullaby" – EuroBelarus) from Mihanavichy led by Larysa Ryzhkova joined the singers.
Continuing their singing, the girls held hands and started a round dance throughout the museum territory. The result was a giant chain that everyone willing to joined. The people in the round dance were spinning, symbolizing the sun, which spins towards summer. Thus, all the festival guests were able to participate in the sacred act of our ancestors.
- SEA uses “bird” symbols during its callings of spring – birds made of paper and dough. The “birds” are played with, hang on the trees, and eaten. This year a new item was introduced to the celebration - tossing cookies-birds on mats. Apparently, it is found in many places in Belarus; I know the variant from the village Pahost in Zhytkovichy region in Gomel oblast, where older women throw the cookies and children catch them while the "birds" are still flying, - Alena Liashkevich noted.
For some years now the topic of birds during the calling of spring in Viazynka has been supported by the “Ahova ptushak Batskaushchyny” (Belarusian "Protection of Homeland Birds" – EuroBelarus), the desks of which are always particularly popular with children.
The hand-made market was open at the festival: there you could find woven belts, pottery, and jewelry. Many complained about the "biting" prices of these products. However, pancakes with cottage cheese and sour cream, cabbage pies, soup, tea, and mead were largely welcomed!
After that old Belarusian folk games and dances to live music took place. Everyone willing to could participate in them, but not too many dared: not everyone can learn quite difficult dance moves from the first.
Perhaps, for most visitors (who, all in all, amounted to several hundred of those who came to Viazynka this year), it was just an opportunity to escape the city and relax in good spring weather. Why not combining it with dances and an attempt to experience the atmosphere of Belarusian traditions as much as possible? The observation claims that from year to year the ethnographic festival attracts not only "followers" of Belarusian traditions but also ordinary people – Russian-speaking and those quite distant from folklore culture in everyday life. But everyone likes it.
- When the fashion for "vyshyvanka" came we got more of those who are interested in the Belarusian. But the number of seriously interested people, who would sacrifice their time for volunteer work in the SEA, hasn’t increased, - Alena Liashkevich said. – Still, I have always believed that it's better that people have shallow interest than no interest at all.