An Orthodox festival organised by the Convent of St. Elisabeth hosted an Orthodox fair and numerous events designed to offer moral and spiritual support to mothers and families and to facilitate networking among families with many children.
The festival was dedicated to the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God and took place during the week preceding the feast from 5 to 12 October at Minsk's Palace of Arts. The Orthodox fair, held as a part of the festival, featured products from over 90 monasteries from 11 countries: Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Greece, Palestine and Syria.
The festival programme included a variety of events and projects focused on family, motherhood and parenthood. The project ‘Mothers and Daughters’ sought to provide encouragement and support to mothers and families with children by introducing them to women who are successful both as mothers and as professionals. The project featured the singer Tamara Vyatskaya as the master of ceremonies, a popular food coach Kseniya Vyatskaya, and the leader of the Centre for the Support of Motherhood and the Family, "Matulya", Vera Serdiuk.
On the eve of the event, Olga Komissarova, the spokesperson for the Convent, said, “Everyone is invited, and we encourage all who may wish to attend to ask our special guests questions on parenting in a large family, on balancing family life and careers and about many other subjects. We expect an interesting and useful discussion and a lot of useful and relevant ideas to take home.”
Guests of the festival were also invited to attend and ask questions at an open meeting of the Convent's lay sisterhood, which was led by the Convent's Spiritual Father, Andrey Lemeshonok. Another event, the concert ‘Seven Selves’, was a chance to meet the families of Archpriest Sergius Khripitsky and musician Alexander Minenkov, which have excelled in the musical and performing arts. The event also included a concert of family musical groups and ensembles.
Visitors to the 'Mothering Corner' were able to ask medical professionals questions about wellness during pregnancy and about breastfeeding. Parents of younger children were offered master classes in singing lullabies and playing quiet games with their children; they also learned about the joy of reading to their children at bedtime.
The festival programme also included multiple activities for children, including classes in making pendant ornaments and bookmarks from flowers and classes about planting and caring for plants which were conducted by an employee from Minsk's botanical garden. Visitors also enjoyed going to a petting zoo and games and sporting activities on a playground at the site of the festival.
The festival preceded the secular holiday of Mother's Day, which coincided with the Feast of the Protection. This inspired the organisers to include in the festival programme an activity titled ‘Write a Postcard to Your Mother’. All participants were able to make a postcard with words of appreciation for their mothers
The international Orthodox festival “Joy of Christmas” opened this year’s Christmas season at St. Elisabeth Convent.