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Belarusian Written Language Day in Slonim

Belarusian Written Language Day in Slonim
1 Sep 2019

In 2019 Belarusian Written Language Day  took place in Slonim, one of Belarus’ oldest towns. This district capital in Grodno Oblast is known for its ancient cultural and spiritual traditions.

A monument to the legendary Leu Sapieha was solemnly unveiled in the central square of Slonim during the celebrations. Leu Sapieha was a famous statesman and military leader, diplomat and political philosopher, one of the authors of the Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He started out as a record-keeper at the Orsha municipal chancellery and rose through the ranks to become Grand Chancellor and Great Hetman of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1586 he became Governor of Slonim. Thanks to him, in 1591 the town on the Shchara River got a coat of arms depicting a lion holding a golden arrow. The same year, Slonim got its Magdeburg rights confirmed (the town got these rights in 1531). Under Leu Sapieha, Slonim turned into an important trading venue and a center of crafts. It was also a place where the country’s decision-makers gathered to discuss important issues.

One of the town’s most famous attractions is the Oginski Canal. It was built in the 18th century upon the order of Hetman Michal Kazimierz Oginski, the uncle of Michal Kleofas Oginski who is known for his polonaise Farewell to the Homeland. Today this picturesque thoroughfare and engineering masterpiece is turning into a popular tourist site.

Michal Kazimierz Oginski was much more than a politician. He was a writer, composer, and patron of arts. He ordered the construction of a theater that is now the town’s cultural hub.

The famous Orthodox sanctuary, Zhirovichi Monastery, is located not far from Slonim. An icon of Virgin Mary is believed to appear in the local woods 550 years ago.  The monastery itself will mark its 500th anniversary soon. Preparations for these landmark events are in full swing.

The program of Belarusian Written Language Day also centered around the history of Slonim and the legacy left behind by its famous natives. This celebration of the national culture also focused on the Native Land theme. In 2018 a decision was made to declare three consecutive years – from 2018 to 2020 – the Years of Native Land.

The biggest draws of the festival were the opening and closing ceremonies, and a ceremony to honor winners of the National Literary Award. A two-day cultural program was packed with events. The Festival of Books and Press, as well as the final round of the Living Classics junior recitation competition took place on 31 August-1 September. Belarusian and foreign writers gathered in Slonim to discuss topical issues of the book publishing industry.

The festival spanned more than 10 venues offering a plethora of activities and entertainments. There were events dedicated to literature, media and theater, activities for young people, a craft fair and pavilions offering national cuisine. Slonim was the first city to host a "literary" gastro fest, where visitors could taste the dishes described in the books of the outstanding writers such as Adam Mickiewicz, Uladzimir Karatkievich, Yakub Kolas. Belarusian Written Language day 2019 prepared an exclusive souvenir which became a set of chocolate featuring portraits of Belarusian well-known writers.

The closing ceremony of the celebrations culminated in the Belarusian Written Language Day relay changeover. In 2020, the festival will be celebrated in Belynichi (Mogilev Oblast), an ancient "city of white nights", the birthplace of famous creative individuals, a "place of worship" for the Christians from Belarus and worldwide. Centuries ago the city on the Drut River, the same like Slonim, was also under the patronage of Chancellor Leu Sapieha.

Chairman of the Slonim District Executive Committee Gennady Khomich handed over a pennant with the right to host the 27th Belarusian Written Language Day and a hand-made folio to his counterpart from Belynichi Vasily Zakharenko.

Belarusian Written Language Day in Slonim
Festival of Books and Press
Belarusian Written Language Day in Slonim
Belarusian Written Language Day in Slonim
Belarusian Written Language Day in Slonim
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