Day of Rejoicing: Belarusians remembering their deceased

Today, on the second Tuesday after Easter Orthodox Christians pray for the souls of the departed. The Day of Rejoicing (Radonitsa) is a unique tradition which has both pagan and Christian roots.

Radonitsa is usually non-working day, which lays a special emphasis on it. As for the provenance of the word, researchers have not arrived at a ommon view yet. As ancient Slavs used to visit family members’ graves and celebrate the beginning of the spring together with them, the feast might have derived its name from the word “rod” (family, clan). Another version says that it was named after pagan god Rada. The Christian church makes the connections with the word “radost” (joy), because on this day people bring the joy of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to their nearest and dearest who passed away.

According to popular beliefs, one should not plant ground with seeds on this day, folklorist Tatsiana Valodzina says. On Radonitsa’s eve women usually prepared special meals the number of which was uneven. Then the food made and paste-eggs were wrapped in a linen kerchief . On the Day of Rejoicing after going to church people would attend cemeteries. While women were crying men were rolling consecrated eggs saying “Christ has risen!” Then everyone sat down around the grave “inviting” the departed to break the bread with them. When dining was over the remains of the meal were symbolically left for the dead or given to the poor.


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