Today, celebrated in a style similar to the US's "Mother's Day." For an interesting history of this day that was begun to celebrate working women but quickly evolved into celebrating Peace as well as Women's Rights, see: International Women's Day.
March 15  -- Constitution Day (NOT currently official)
The constitution of a democratic, independent Belarus is adopted. Also see entry for November 24, 1996.
April 2  -- Day of Unity of the Belarusian and Russian Peoples (official, but not a day exempt from work)
Added in 1998 by Lukashenka's regime as part of his pro-Soviet, Russification agenda.
April 11  -- Hunger Strike by 19 Belarusian Parliament Members (day of historical significance)
This hunger strike was "part of protests against President Lukashenko's initiative to hold a national referendum calling for economic integration with Russia, the elevation of Russian to the level of a state language, the introduction of a Soviet-style state symbols to replace the historical ones and the right of the president to dismiss Parliament. The hunger strikers felt that some of the referendum questions, if approved, would be in violation of the Constitution."
"On the night of April 11, special forces beat the striking lawmakers and dragged them into the street, injuring 7 people. The Procurator General's Office launched a criminal investigation into the incident, but dropped it later under pressure from the president's administration, and no one was ever charged nor punished for the beatings of the parliamentarians.
The following day, under prodding from the president and with the opposition physically disabled and absent, the Supreme Soviet agreed to include all the four questions in the referendum and hold it on May 14 along with parliamentary elections. In the referendum, President Lukashenko's proposals were approved by some 80 percent of those who took part. The official explanation for dropping the investigation was the failure to establish those who had beaten the parliamentarians and circumstances of the incident." Also see "Referendum, May 14, 1995".
The annual date of Passover is determined by the Lunar calendar.
(The First Sunday after Passover) -- Eastern Orthodox Easter (traditional/religious)
The date of Eastern Orthodox Easter always follows Passover (and Passover is determined by the Lunar calendar), thus Eastern Orthodox Easter often occurs on a date different from the celebration of the other Christian religions. (Note: There are plans for the Christian religions to unite and celebrate a single Easter, but no agreement has been made as yet.)
In addition to the Easter celebrations themselves, traditional "Easter Monday" was celebrated for both Easters, but is not officially noted currently in Belarus.
(The Ninth Day after Eastern Orthodox Easter) -- Radunitsa (traditional/religious)
On May 9 , hundreds of people came to Kurapaty, the site of Stalin-era mass executions of prisoners outside Minsk. The ninth day after Orthodox Easter is traditionally observed in Belarus as Radunitsa, a sort of Remembrance Day.
April 24 -- The Anniversary of the 1794 Uprising (historic)
Soviet/Lukashenka holiday celebrating the Soviet victory over the fascists in the "Great Patriotic War." Usually, no mention is made of anyone else participating in this victory, other than the united Soviet peoples. (Note however, that many people feel that the Soviets did as much damage as the Nazis to the Belarusian land, people, and culture, and that such a celebration is much more propaganda and wishful thinking rather than fact.)
May 10  -- Yuryev Dzen' (the Day of Yuri) (traditional)
A traditional celebration in Belarus relating to agriculture and marking the beginning of summer.
(second Sunday in May) -- Day of the State Emblem and the State Flag of the Republic of Belarus (official; but not a day exempt from work)
Added in 1998 by the Lukashenka regime to celebrate the modified Soviet symbols for Belarus (rather than the traditional Belarusian ones). These pseudo-Soviet symbols came out of the Referendum of May 14, 1995. Go to the A Belarus Miscellany home page for examples of the traditional symbols and links to Web pages portraying the Soviet-style ones).
May 14  -- Referendum on National Languages & Symbols
Voters approve the Lukashenka-initiated issues: (1) The return of Russian as the second, dual official language (along with Belarusian)--though in fact, it has replaced Belarusian as the official language. (2) Closer integration with Russia, (3) Power to the president to dissolve parliament, and (4) a return to national symbols almost identical to the Soviet ones for Belarus, approved in the early 1950s.
Feeling that the referendum could be a mortal blow to Belarusian national dignity and honor, opposition parliamentarians attempted to block three of the four referendum questions. On April 11, 1995, nineteen of the opposition Supreme Soviet members went on a hunger strike in the parliament house to make their point. The striking parliamentarians were forcibly evicted from the building by special forces using violence.
May 15 -- International Day of Families (by presidential edict; 1997)
In 1999, A Week of Families campaign was launched in Minsk on May 11
and continued through May 17.
(First Sunday after Pentecost) -- Holiday of All Belarusian Saints (religious; established by the Orthodox Church in 1984 to celebrate 15 saints closely associated with Belarus)
May 24 -- Sts. Cyril & Methodius (traditional/religious)
June 13-14  -- Tatar National Holiday of Sabantui (traditional)
This celebration usually takes place upon the completion of the spring sowing campaign. (In 1998, a celebration took place in the village of Smilovichi in the Cherven district of the Minsk region.)
June 23-24 -- Kupal'lie (traditional, ancient)
The Belarusian version of the midsummer festival that is celebrated throughout Europe on the Summer Solstice. (Old Julian calendar date: July 6 - 7.) Also spelled Kupalle; sometimes the holiday is called Ivan Kupala (when translated from Russian).
One of Belarus' greatest writers, Yanka Kupala (1882 - 1942), took his pen name from this holiday.
July 3 -- Independence Day (official)
One of the Lukashenka-created holidays; not the traditional independence day. Also see entry for July 27th. (Who knows why the anniversary of the liberation of Mensk during WWII was chosen?)
July 15 -- Anniversary of Battle of Grunwald (historical)
The anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald. On July 15, 1410, a decisive battle, one of the biggest in the Middle Ages, took place near the village of Grunwald (also known as Tannenberg). On one side were the Teutonic Knights with West European mercenaries, about 27,000 soldiers commanded by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. On the other was a larger army of Jagiello and Vitaut, supported by Czech and vassal Tartar contingents, of about 39,000 men. The allied forces included a unit from Bierascie (Brest Province, Belarus). By the end of the day, the Teutonic Knights were defeated. Some 8,000 of them were slain, including the Grand Master of the Order.
September 8 -- Anniversary of the Battle of Orsha (traditional)
In 1514, a military force comprising approximately 30 thousand men of the Grand Duchy of Litva, Rus', and Samogitia; led by Hetman Astrozhski (Konstantin Ostrozhsky); defeated an army of approximately 80 thousand men of the Moscow Princedom near the town of Orsha.
September 8 -- Belarusian Military Glory Day (official)
A Lukashenka-era, Soviet-style celebration, more than likely created to detract from the traditional celebration of the Battle of Orsha (see previous entry).
Second Sunday in September -- Tankman's Day (official - Soviet/Lukashenka)
Another of the many, Soviet-style Lukashenka-created holidays (celebrated by the military); originally instituted by the Soviet government in 1946 and revived in Belarus by him in 1998.
November 1st through December, 1920 -- Slucak (Slutsk) Uprising (historic)
November 2 -- Remembrance Day (Dzen' Dzyady) (traditional)
The day for commemorating ancestors with a special family meal, dating from pre-Christian times and later associated with Christianity's All Souls' Day. In some areas of Belarus, Dzen' Dzyady was commemorated several times during the year. Until 1997, an official holiday (day off from work), but not currently. For possible reasons for this change, see the following:
Since the Belarusian Declaration of Sovereignty in July, 1990, Dzen' Dzyady became an occasion for patriotic demonstrations emphasizing the victims and heroes of the historical past. Such observances were led by the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF) and other groups and included marches to Kurapaty, a site near Minsk where mass executions took place during the Stalinist era of the USSR.
November 7 -- October Revolution Day (official/Soviet)
("October" Revolution since the calendar being used was the Julian, rather than the current Gregorian.)
November 24  -- Rigged Referendum Day (NOT official)
The rigged "referendum" (sic) of Mr. Lukashenka's that destroyed all democratic aspects of the Belarusian constitution, codified his dictatorial power, threatens Belarusian cultural identity and basic human dignity, and started Belarus on a slide into poverty and isolation. Also see entries for Constitution Day (March, 1994), and for the hunger strike and beatings (April, 1995).
Referred to as Catholic Christmas in Belarus to distinguish it from Orthodox Christmas (January 7th).
This date is celebrated by most Christians throughout the world, including many Eastern Orthodox Christians. (Rather than the January 7th date celebrated by Russian Orthodox Christians. The latter is primarily celebrated by those churches under the authority of the Russian Patriarch, including all Eastern Orthodox churches in Belarus.)
December 25 -- January 7 -- Kalyady (traditional/ancient)
Traditional, pre-Christian, winter holiday. Refer to the The Virtual Guide to Belarus's section about traditional holidays for further information.
The current regime ruling Belarus, especially the president, periodically issues "edicts" adding or removing days from the official list of holidays. If you hear of updates to the preceding list, please let me know.
The official holidays tend to be Soviet and pro-Russian in orientation, and are just as usually anti-Belarus nationalism. Also as many note, they seem to be created in support of resurrecting a new Soviet Union with Aleksandr Lukashenka as its leader. The nine (9) official holidays, as noted in the preceding list, were accurate as of March, 1998, and are noted with the parenthetical "(official)" after them. These are the days that are official rest days (exemption from work).
In additional to traditional and official holidays, days of long past and more contemporary historical (i.e., historic) significance are also included in the preceding list (and are clearly identified as such).
For a much more complete timeline of Belarusian history, refer to either or both of the following books by Jan Zaprudnik: