Unlike the other countries that formed the part of the erstwhile Soviet Union, Belarusian does not celebrate its Independence Day to honor its freedom from the USSR.
How is the Independence Day of Belarus celebrated?
Independence Day is observed as a national holiday in Belarus. The day usually commences with a presidential address, and is followed by honoring the memory of the fallen heroes who fought the Nazi forces in 1944 to proclaim freedom for Minsk. The Independence Day celebrations also include military and civil processions, concerts, and other festivities throughout the country. The day finally comes to an end with a display of fireworks gracing the sky.
What is the significance of Belarusian Independence Day?
Until 1996, Belarus celebrated its Independence Day on July 27, the day in 1990 when Belarus' Supreme Council official declared the country free from USSR. That changed in 1996 when, through a referendum, people voted to make July 3 the Independence Day of this landlocked country in Eastern Europe. The day was chosen in honor of those who fought to free Minsk from German forces during the Second World War.
Belarus saw widespread destruction during the Second World War, with third-largest Nazi concentration camp set up in the outskirts of Minsk, where about 200,000 people were cruelly killed. As Nazi Germany invaded Russia in 1941, Belarus became embroiled in bloodbath, which continued until 1944.
The Red Army drove the Germans out of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (formed at the end of World War I as the Red Army took control of Belarus) and Minsk finally became free on July 3, 1944. The western part of Belarus, which was under Poland after the Treaty of Riga was signed in 1921, was official recognized as the part of Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic at the end of the war in 1945.
The 1990s saw many important developments including the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the collapse of the USSR, which lead to the creation of independent Republic of Belarus in 1991, and Alexander Lukashenko became the country's first President.
What does the Belarusian national flag represent?
The present Belarusian flag resembles the flag of 1951 when it was a republic in Soviet Union. The flag doesn't differ widely from that of the Soviet era except for the exclusion of the hammer and sickle and the star signifying communism from the red panel on its flagstaff.
Today, the Belarusian flag features two horizontal stripes and a red-on-white motif. While the motif symbolizes the unique Belarusian culture and heritage, its spiritual opulence, and the harmony of its people, the red and green colors of the horizontal bands epitomize past and future. The upper part of the horizontal bands is red and covers two-third of the flag width, while lower green part extends about one-third of the flag width. The red color symbolizes the historical events as red was the color of Belarusian forces at the Battle of Grunwald, and that of Soviet army and the Belarusian guerrillas who fought the Nazi forces during World War II.
The green color signifies future, progress, hope, and also the luxuriant forests and fields of the country.
Who wrote the National Anthem of Belarus?
The Belarusian National anthem is titled as My Belarusy was adopted in 1955 for Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. Although the original music which was composed by Niescier Sakalouski was retained, the lyrics written by Mikhas Klimkovich were no longer deemed appropriate. In 2002, a presidential order required the adoption of new lyrics written by Uladzimir Karyzny, which eulogized Belarus' glorious past.