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Radonitsa in Belarus: People remember the dead on ninth day after Easter

Radonitsa (also called Radunitsa) in Belarus is also called Easter for the dead. It is celebrated by Orthodox Belarusians. On this day, all churches usually hold memorial services, with tens of thousands of people coming to cemeteries to honor the memory of their loved ones. 

On the graves, people light candles, clean up and share thoughts with their ancestors. Mass graves are not left without attention either. Memorials are visited by those whose grandparents gave their lives for the peaceful sky overhead. Many names are still in the ground, with thousands still missing.

Maxim came today to visit his ancestors. The sister of his grandmother during the Great Patriotic War was a partisan in Minsk. The woman was strong in spirit, but her health failed: she fell ill with tuberculosis in 1945. A few days were remaining before the Great Victory of May 9 of the same year.

Maxim Kukareka:
Everyone should pick a certain date and come to remember their ancestors. Thanks to these people, we all live in this world.

And there are thousands of such stories. Orthodox Belarusians on May 10 remembered their ancestors standing in silence at tombstones.

Alla Kravchenko:
Here lies my aunt, she was only five when she was bombed during the war.

Anna Knysh:
I was cleaning up the weeds. Grandpa and dad are painting the fence. And dad adorned the gravestone inscription.

Vladimir Lemeshko, resident of the agrotown Ozery:
We remember everyone and pray for them. Let them be granted absolution. Let all their sins disappear.

During WWII, Belarus lost every third citizen. Who was buried and where is unknown in many cases, with thousands still missing. About 200,000 people were killed In the largest death camp Trostenets. Only part of the names was restored from the ashes.

Special groups of researchers are still searching for the dead at a number of sites of the former concentration camps, for example Stalag 352, in the Masyukovshchina neighborhood. They find weapons, ammunition and medals. All these items return the names of heroes into history. Then the remains will be reburied and will thus give their families a meeting place for next Radonitsa days.

In the meantime, Svetlana Lebedevich is taking care of a mass grave. Here several tens of unknown soldiers are buried. According to stories of old residents, it was they who liberated the village from the Nazis.

Svetlana Lebedevich, resident of the agrotown Ozery:
It is always necessary to maintain memorials in proper conditions. And, of course, it is not only today that we are here. We constantly visit this place to tidy it up.

Radonitsa is a tradition that dates back to over 2,000 years. Its main purpose is sacred memory.