The Belarusian Cultural Background

Belarusians tend to say what they mean and what they are thinking but never directly to the person they are thinking about.                                               People can be quite direct when asking for something, like for instance at the dinner table, when it is usually done with a command rather than a question.  Some westerners might even think of these types of social interactions as rude.

Meetings: It is best to arriving on time for a meeting even though you may be kept waiting.                                                                                                         Business meetings tend to be quite structured.  The leader/host speaks and runs the meeting per plan. The plan is presented for the meeting and it is usually followed to the last line and then the meeting is adjourned.

Gifts usually mean corruption so it is best to avoid any gifts at initial meetings.

Fashion: People in Belarus are fashionable and wear European clothes sometimes decorated with traditional embroidery. Rural people dress more casually. Elderly women.

The Belarusian government sponsors many annual cultural festivals. At these festivals, various prizes named after Soviet and Belarusian heroes are awarded for excellence in music or art. The contemporary nationalists argue that most of these sponsored events have nothing to do with the Belarusian culture, let alone the culture as such, however all the events are subject to the expertise of the Belarusian Ministry of Culture. Several state holidays, like Independence Day or Victory Day draw big crowds and include various displays such as fireworks and military parades. Most of the festivals take place in Vitebsk or Minsk.

Sports: From the 1952 Helsinki Games until the end of the Soviet era, Belarus competed in the Olympic Games as part of the Soviet Olympic squad. During the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Belarus competed as part of the Unified Team. The nation’s athletes competed in an Olympic Games as Belarusians for the first time during the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Belarus has won a total of 52 Olympic medals; 6 gold, 17 silver and 29 bronze. Belarus’s National Olympic Committee has been headed by President Lukashenko since 1997; he is the only head of state in the world to hold this position.

Receiving heavy sponsorship from the President himself, ice hockey is the nation’s most popular sport. The men’s national team finished a surprising fourth in overall competition at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Belarusian players have also played in the National Hockey League in North America.