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Heritage Sites:Rite of the Kalyady Tsars (Christmas Tsars)

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The Kalyady Tsars (Christmas Tsars) is a ritual and festive event celebrated annually in the village of Semezhava in the Kopyl district (Minsk oblast) on January 13th. The rite is exclusive to this particular village and recognition of its uniqueness extends beyond Belarus to the international community. In 2009 the Kalyady Tsars was included in UNESCO Intangible Heritage List. This festive event comprises the traditional elements of Belarusian Christmas and New Year carnival but with its own special flavor. Seven young men, chosen as the 'Kalyady Tsars', dress in white shirts and trousers along with the traditional Semezhava waistbands and geometrical ornament. The chest of each man is crisscrossed by red straps. They wear black boots and high paper hats with multicolor paper ribbons. All 'tsars' are armed with 'sabres' and each of them has his own name: ‘Tsar Maximilian’, ‘Tsar Mamai’ etc. The characters include a doctor, a musician and a drummer. During the drama, ‘tsars’ visit houses to give comic performances and receive good wishes and awards. The performance features a meeting and a fight of the ‘tsars'. The torchlight procession continues into the night. After the performance, the tsars express best wishes to their hosts and receive awards. Finally, all the participants gather at one table for a late-night celebration of traditional Christmas dishes and the gifts received during the evening. The ceremony, always popular with older village residents, is receiving greater attention from young people and attracting attention from tourists and media.

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About the Heritage Site

  • Country: Belarus
  • Location:Semezhava village, Kopyl district, Minsk region
  • Postal Adress:
Lenina 6, Kapyl, Minsk region
phone: +375 17 19 555 45

Accessibility of Heritage Site

  • Opening times: 13th of January
  • How to get there: by car