Since the development of Belarusian culture was suppressed by Polish and Russian ones for the last 400 years it is still very close to ancient Eastern Slavic tradition. A person knowing Belarusian language can understand Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Serbian and Bulgarian. It is through the ties with Serbia, Czech, Italy, Poland and Germany the European culture was entering Belarus resulting in unique Renaissance époque in XVI c.
Belarus was always an El Dorado for all sorts of ethnographic expeditions. Especially famous is Paliessie - a swampy region shared along the south border with Ukraine.
(Click here to hear a folk song from Palesse region(500K))
You can still find there thousand year old tales, songs and even customs. Overall, despite of the soviet direction on the "grinding off" the differences between nationalities Belarus succeeded in preserving its folk traditions. Trough all these centuries of foreign cultural domination Belarusan tradition was living in the country side.
The most hard blow was done on language. Many of contemporary Belarusians do not speak Belarusian. I myself was studying Russian in school beginning from the first grade, English - from the second and Belarusan only from fifth. It is not like this now. Both Belarusian and Russian are state official language. But in several years only Belarusian language will be left as official. Generations of Belarusians taught in schools in Belarusian are growing now.
And perhaps my last notion - Belarus or Belaya Rus'. The name of my country could be translated as "White Russia". There are several explanations of it. One of them is as following. Belarus is a part of ancient Eastern Slavs Commonwealth - Rus'- that was never occupied by Tatars (Mongols). Thus it stayed clear - "white"- of invaders. It is since invasion of Tatars into Russia our historical paths are different and we developed different cultures. Belarusians are still ethnically close to ancient Slavs - blue-eyed, light hair. We are very similar in physical features and cultural traditions to Northern Russians (Novgorod, Arkhangelsk) that were never under Tartars either.
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