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The Crimean peninsula is a unique corner of the Earth, where a variety of ethnic communities have been good neighbors for many years. Russians, Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, Germans, Uzbeks, Azerbaijanis, Belarusians and representatives of other peoples live here. And each of them has its own distinctive features, customs, traditions and, of course, own holidays.

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"Representatives of 175 peoples live in Crimea. More than a hundred events are held annually in the Republic, including national holidays, festivals rituals, contests, exhibitions, master classes and more. Their goal is to preserve the interethnic harmony, culture and identity of the peoples living on the peninsula, to discover the ethnic diversity of Crimea for all people irrespectively of ethnic background, faith and belief", — said Larisa Sokirskaya, director of the Republican House of Interethnic Friendship.

We will introduce you to several ethnic holidays, which are celebrated in Crimea vividly, massively and on a grand scale.

Sollal of Koreans 

Sollal, or Korean New Year, is the first day of the lunar-solar calendar, one of the most important holidays of Koreans. It is celebrated annually on January 25. This is a family holiday which is associated with national traditions. For example, the main habit on this day is that the younger generation gives maximum attention and respect to elders.

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On this day, it is a tradition to visit parents, to have national dishes for meals, as well as to put hanbok − traditional clothes − and play folk games. Sollal is not complete without Korean dances, which are characterized by smoothness of movement and grace.

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As it was emphasized at the House of Interethnic Friendship, hundreds of Koreans permanently live or study in Crimea, so this holiday is not unknown for the Crimeans. On the peninsula, it is celebrated in accordance with the Korean ethnic traditions.  Many Koreans go to the seashore to meet there the first rays of the New Year's sun, and some arrive accompanied by relatives and friends to the celebration party. About 300 representatives of this people from all over Crimea gather annually to pay tribute to the customs of their ancestors.

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Sollal of Koreans

Trifon Zarezan of Bulgarians

Trifon Zarezan is a Bulgarian folk festival of winegrowers and winemakers. On the day of St. Trifon (Tryphon), which is revered by the Bulgarians as the patron saint of the "vineyard art" workers and celebrated on February 14, the ceremony of the first pruning of the vine is carried out (in Bulgarian, "pruning" is "zaryazvane", that is why Trifon is called Zarezan).

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By the tradition, a prayer service is held on this day in honor of St. Trifon, a ritual pruning of the vines is performed, and the King of winegrowers and winemakers is chosen, who treats everyone present with different dishes. The Bulgarian holiday is not complete without the folk horo dance (round dance − ed.).

According to Ivan Abazher − the head of the Regional Bulgarian Ethnic and Cultural Autonomy of the Republic of Crimea − a contest for the best wine and traditional sarmi dish, as well as a folk concert, is held in Crimea annually as part of the holiday. 

Trifon Zarezan of Bulgarians

Navruz

This is a holiday of Muslim peoples, which symbolizes the coming of spring, the awakening of nature and the beginning of new life. ‘Navruz’ means ‘new day’. In different countries, its spelling and pronunciation may vary − Navrez, Nowruz, Navruz, Nuruz, Nevruz, Nauryz and others. The holiday is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox (March 21), when spring finally takes over and the time comes for field work.

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Navruz is one of the oldest on Earth. On this day, it is customary for Muslim peoples to forgive insults even from the worst enemies, to show kindness to and consideration for others. Believers prepare for it in advance: they clean their houses, yards, put everything in order. The holiday symbolizes the beginning of a new life and a new agricultural year, so its main attribute is a dish of sprouted wheat seeds. This dish is the main decoration of the table.

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Another tradition is to tie a bright ribbon on the "spring tree", while making a wish. And if you make a wish with pure thoughts, then it is believed that it will certainly come true.

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Navruz

Khιdιrlez of Crimean Tatars

Khιdιrlez is a folk holiday of the Crimean Tatars, which symbolizes fertility, prosperity and well-being. The name of the holiday comes from the names of Muslim saints Khιdιr and Ilyas, who travel around the world and help people. The holiday is celebrated on the day when they meet − in early May.

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Among Turkic peoples this day was considered one of the most important in the year. In the 19th century celebration lasted three days. Today the traditions of wide public festivities have remained. For example, in Crimea Khιdιrlez is an all-Crimean celebration that unites residents from different parts of our peninsula and guests from other regions of the country. Every year tens of thousands of Crimeans of various ethnic background take part in it.

The main events of the celebration in recent years have been held in the Bakhchisaray district. As part of the holiday, exhibition areas are set up in the open territory that exhibit the culture and life of the Crimean Tatar people, and pavilions for cooking ethnic cuisine dishes. Various sports competitions in power sports are traditional for this holiday.

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"People pray for a future harvest, and then mass celebrations take place everywhere. Guests from all around come to the celebration, folk music plays, people sing and dance, housewives compete in the skills to cook various dishes. Traditionally, Khιdιrlez is also an exhibition of Crimean Tatar folk crafts, decorative and applied arts. The best artisans demonstrate their skills − blacksmiths, potters, engravers, embroiderers. This is a fun and generous holiday", — the press service of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Crimea emphasized.

Khιdιrlez

Vardavar of Armenians

This is a traditional Armenian religious holiday in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Celebrated in summer, 14 weeks after Easter. In Crimea the celebration of Vardavar takes place in the monastery of Surb-Khach in Stariy Krim, and it is accompanied by the performance of folk traditions. One of the most popular and beloved habits among Armenians is pouring water over each other. Moreover, on this day not only relatives and friends, but also passers-by are watered. At the same time, it is not customary to swear at such a behavior, since it is believed that water on this day has sacred power and being poured over somebody is only for the good.

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On holidays they also perform traditional songs, dances, play games and eat Armenian dishes. Every year Vardavar gathers several thousand guests in Stariy Krim. Everyone can participate in the festivities.

Vardavar

Panair of Greeks

According to a Greek tradition, on the day of the saints of a particular church, parishioners and believers from other places gather for public festivities.  Such a holiday is called Panair. Crimean Greeks living in the village of Chernopolyeh, Belogorsky district, have preserved this tradition. They celebrate Panair on June 3 − the day of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor and Empress Constantine and Helena.

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According to established tradition, after the morning liturgy, the clergy, parishioners and guests go in religious procession to the ‘Holy Krinitsa’ − the Constantine healing spring − the spring that attracted the first settlers − the Thracian Greeks − to these place. Here you can take some blessed water for future needs.

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Then go public treats and a rich concert program, in which musical groups of Greeks and other Crimean peoples take part. Guests from all over Crimea, as well as from other regions of the country, gather for the holiday. For those present Panair is a real excursion into the world of Greek culture: all comers get acquainted with the cuisine, habits, traditions and folklore of the Crimean Greeks.

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Panair

Kurban Bayram

Another ethnic holiday is celebrated in summer − Kurban Bayram. This is one of the main religious holidays of Muslims. On this day, believers gather in mosques for prayer, and also perform the ritual of sacrifice. The holiday lasts three days, during which prayers and praises to the Almighty are read. According to the press service of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Crimea, the Kurban Bayram is celebrated wide and gathers residents and guests of different peoples and faiths. In Crimea it is declared an official day off by decree of the head of the Republic.

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"The main mission of the holiday is charity. During the days of the Kurban Bayram celebration, people go to visit the sick and the elderly, help orphans and the poor, treat their neighbors and give children sweets. The Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Crimea with the help of local communities organizes celebration in all corners of the Republic" — the SAMC informed.

Crimean Tatars holiday

Slavic Unity Day

On June 25 the Slavs of the whole world (and this is more than 300 million people), celebrate the Day of friendship and unity of the Slavs. This memorial date was established in the 90s of the past century so that different branches of the Slavic peoples remembered their historical roots, sought to preserve their culture and centuries-old relationship with each other. This bright holiday manifests fraternity, good neighborhood and mutual understanding of Belarusians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Poles, Russians, Serbs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, and other Slavic peoples.

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Traditionally, on this day in many Russian cities ethnic pavilions are set up and ethnic folk groups sing and dance at concert venues. The holiday is celebrated with songs, dances, games and various treats. Fairs of arts and crafts are also organized so that everyone could get acquainted with household items, folk costumes and traditions of the Slavs.

"The purpose of this holiday is to strengthen interethnic harmony, ethnic and cultural development of the Crimean peoples, uniting the Slavs and preservation of their rich spiritual heritage. This year Crimeans will celebrate this wonderful holiday for the second time, and all interested inhabitants and guests of the peninsula can join in", — as it was summed up at the Interethnic Friendship House of the Republic of Crimea.

Slavic Unity Day