Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Vyaselykh Kalyad"
Location: Eastern Europe
Tree Type: Traditional
Decorations: Straw is important in many aspects of Belarusian Christmas celebrations. Most of the brightly colored ornaments found on Christmas trees in Belarus are made of straw fashioned to look like anything from stars to children. Straw is placed on the dinner table on Christmas Eve to remind families of the straw in the stable where Jesus was born. In many homes, Christmas dinner is made and served in twelve courses to bring to mind Jesus' twelve apostles.
Straw is also used for parts of the fortune telling that takes place between Christmas and New Year. Adults draw straws from the Christmas table to determine their future in the coming year, while young girls predict their own marriages as part of other games. One involves a series of mirrors. It is believed that if two mirrors are placed correctly, a young girl will be able to see the face of her future husband in one of the glasses. Another fortune telling game uses a rooster and one pile of corn for each young girl. Traditionally, the rooster will strut around the circle and eventually choose to eat corn from girl who is the next to be married.
Christmas carolers, clothes, wishes and treats are all Belarusian traditions intended to bring good fortune to people during the new year.