“I thought they would meet me with ordinary lard, but I didn’t guess”: how a tourist from Lithuania, Algerdos Dambrava stayed in Grodno on Christmas Eve

“I thought they would meet me with ordinary lard, but I didn’t guess”: how a tourist from Lithuania, Algerdos Dambrava stayed in Grodno on Christmas Eve

Algerdos Dambrava is a psychiatrist from Vilnius. This year, he decided to go on a small “corporate” trip with his medical colleagues.  We had to leave the Lithuanian capital at five in the morning in order to be in Belarus in time. The travelers admitted that they were very afraid of queues at the border, but as a result they did not have to “stand idle” - to the main point of the tourist program, the Grodno Museum of the History of Religion, they arrived only fifteen minutes late.

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-And this is only because they couldn’t “drive us out” for a long time from St. Francis Xavier Cathedral,” Algerdos joked. This is a  temple of incredible beauty. We were lucky, we have got just at the time of the wedding. True, the wedding kiss did not wait, sorry. Probably, it was necessary to linger a little bit after all.

Lithuanian guests got off the bus a little tired. Before the Christmas “Veccharyna” in the museum of the history of religion, tourists had a chance to take a ride around the city and have some fun in Korobchitsy. By the way, the guys appreciated the warm welcome in the famous agrotourism complex for all five stars.

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 - The first time I tried mead and bacon on bread with pickled cucumber. I thought they would meet the usual lard, but no, I did not guess. Interesting, and in the museum they will treat me with something? was interested Algerdos, smiling.

 By the time foreign tourists arrived, the “famed format” - the tea party table with ruddy pancakes was ready. But for the guests it was supposed to be a surprise, so to speak, a pleasant final note of the evening.

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I can tell that creative people live in Grodno, you can see right away, Algerdos hurried to share his impressions during the excursion - in a whisper so not to disturb anyone. Take at least garbage bins in the form of gentlemen in a tailcoat with a hat. I see this for the first time. In my opinion, it is interesting, uplifting.

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 In the Museum of the History of Religion, tourists were shown an exhibition exposition of Christmas masks and vytinanky, and also they told about the main rites of the ancient pagan holiday - Kolyadа, which even with the advent of Christianity for a long time was tightly connected with Belarusian folk traditions. The holiday gave rise to many legends and mythological characters. As it turned out, the main ones are not familiar to the nearest Lithuanian neighbors.

 -You have a goat. This is a symbol of happiness, fertility, wealth, said Algerdos.  She brings people the sun. We, on the contrary, are the symbol of something evil, bad. No one would have thought of coming to visit another man in the guise of a goat at Christmas.

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Carols in the Belarusian folk tradition is a spectacular holiday. In the city squares, starting from the 16th century, a mobile puppet theater was unfolding - a batleika. And today, in the 21st century, several centuries later, the Lithuanian guests could see a real Christmas performance. The two-story wooden batleika is made according to the canons of the ancient popular mobile theaters. Dolls are the exact copies of antique exhibits. The presentation puts and voices one person.

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- About ten heroes, and one actor. Great, this is a real talent, noticed Algerdos, loudly applauding. In general, it seems to me that the Belarusians have changed a lot. I was in Minsk 20 years ago. People seemed to me then a little miserable and too cautious. And now everyone is very open, friendly, warm to foreigners. Even your customs officers are always smiling, joking.

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 Ahead a tour quest was waiting for tourists, and for its passage a valuable gift was the key to the ancient kufar of the 19th century, in which, as a result, the muesli of the Spartak confectionary factory were hidden.

- Brother, when he comes from Belarus, always brings  your sweets. We love them very much, shared Algerdos. - Especially all praise chocolate . By the way, some of my colleagues said that the streets in Grodno for the New Year are decorated even brighter than in Vilnius. True, it is beautiful. All in the lights. But I was more struck by how clean you were - I wanted to find at least one piece of paper under my feet for the sake of interest, but I could not. They say that here the janitors get up long before the start of the working day in order to put everything in order, to clear the snow. They are very conscientious, I must say.

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 Lithuanian guest admitted that in Grodno tourists are met in a special way - calmly and slowly.

 - Here you are not in a hurry, in the back of the head is not breathing another tour group, no one shows the clock. You feel really welcome, relax and enjoy the atmosphere. And they always invite everyone to come: "Come again." It's nice.

And while Algerdos reasoned, helping himself with hot tea, fragrant pancakes and sweets, the other guys from the “corporate” journey were trying to make friends with another character of Belarusian folk mythology - Zuzei, the barefoot gray old man, the hero of the cold and winter. According to belief, he is ambivalent: he becomes good only when people play with him, which means that he has not done without contests.

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 - Pancakes are incredibly tasty! As at home, only tastier, praised  Algerdos and immediately noticed: Zyuzya does not come to us for Christmas. And there is no Snow Maiden, and Santa Claus went into oblivion. Our children are now waiting for Santa Claus on the reindeer. Although the idea of a barefoot old man cool. Sometimes I myself play the role of a “red-cheeked one”. Here I think, do not organize yourself an assistant. The image will take root, what do you think?

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In memory of the visa-free weekend in Grodno there will be souvenir Christmas bells and a whole archive of selfies, and the first in line to the social network - of course, with the Belarusian Zyuya. Today Algerdos is already in Vilnius - at midnight the tour group went home. But before leaving, the guest hinted that he would definitely return to Belarus. True, this time the path intends to keep straight to the Nesvizh Castle.

Редакция газеты «Гродненская правда»