Christmas in Belarus is different than in the United States. In Belarus, they enjoy the holiday from Christmas to New Year and use a pre-Christian tradition known as Kaliady.
Despite its pagan roots, Kaliady has been influenced over the years by Christianity, and now Catholics and Protestants who live in Belarus take part in the festivities.
What is Kaliady
Kaliady starts and ends with two Christmas celebrations and has a New Year's celebration in the middle. That may not sound like it makes sense, but let me explain it to you.
The holiday starts on December 25th when the Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, celebrate the birth of Jesus. This is obviously the same date that we use in the United States.
The middle of Kaliady is celebrated with New Year's Eve celebrations, which include most of the country, both secular and Christian.
On January 7th is when the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas. In Belarus, most of the citizens are part of the Orthodox church, so January 7th is the largest celebration of the two Christmases.
While Under The Iron Curtain
For many decades, Belarus was part of the Soviet Union, and during that time, Christmas was only celebrated in secret.
Communism is an atheistic and totalitarian mindset, and often, under these regimes, Christianity is banned, and Christmas is not recognized.
Kaliady received its name under the old USSR when folks would go around and sing songs to their neighbors. It sounds like Christmas caroling, but it was different.
According to Why Christmas, New Year's Day is the primary celebration in Belarus:
Many of the 'traditions' that most people associate with Christmas are now linked to the New Year celebrations. There are New Year Trees (sometimes called holiday trees), and gifts are often put under the tree and are exchanged/opened on New Year's Eve.
New Year is also when 'Father Frost' brings presents to children. He is often accompanied by his Granddaughter. Some children might also have a visit from Sviaty Mikalaj - St Nicholas.
New Year and Christmas lights are put in towns and cities throughout Belarus.
Christmas in Belarus is more of a festival that continues throughout many days than everything crammed into one day.
There are also many traditions that they have that are similar to ours. An example of two of these traditions is Father Frost and Holiday Trees.
Father Frost looks similar to Santa Claus, and Holiday Trees as pretty much the same as Christmas Trees.
Christmas Dinner is made up of 12 dishes that represent the 12 disciples at Christmas. An example of this is shown below by a Belarusian family: