16 November 2020

On 14th November, Belarus celebrates the national holiday of Kuzma - the patron saint of blacksmiths. Therefore, this day is also called the professional holiday of these craftsmen - Blacksmith's Day. Blacksmithing is one of the oldest and most respected crafts. Blacksmiths have long been honored among the people. Becoming a blacksmith is not as easy as it seems. Studying today takes a sufficient amount of time, and in the past it used to take from 3 to 10 years to be a blacksmith. Until the 12th century, blacksmiths were masters of iron smelting and forging of various objects of labor, weapons and jewelry. Because of the severity of the craft, blacksmiths were called Bogatyrs (heroes of the Slavic folklore who were known for their strength, wisdom and kindness), respect for them was brought by the ability to subdue such an obstinate element as fire. Since the professional work of a blacksmith was well paid and was respected, albeit sometimes difficult, the younger generation in the village certainly wanted to join the community of blacksmiths. To be similar, the children invented various games where a blacksmith or his activity would appear. A huge number of such games have survived in Belarusian folklore.

Despite the fact that modern industry has supplanted handicrafts, the profession of a blacksmith remains highly respected. A halo of mysticism and mystery still hovers around it. And forged products today are expensive luxury items. They are often beautiful, graceful works of art. In addition to the day of their patron Kuzma, blacksmiths often organize celebrations of their profession at various festivals and exhibitions. For example, during the Slavianski Bazaar fest in Vitebsk, the Ball of Hephaestus is held annually. There, masters of fire and iron demonstrate their ability to transform metal into flowers, butterflies, or even headdress.

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