Last weekend the staff of Polistovsky Reserve visited the Festival "Myths of the wetlands", organized by the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve.
Participating in this event for the employees of the department of environmental education and tourism is a great opportunity to exchange experiences with colleagues. It is important that the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve is located on the territory of neighboring country and therefore it goes its own way of development, different from our Russian experience. But at the same time we have common history and Slavic culture, similarity of presented landscapes, that makes our cooperation particularly interesting.
Belarusian mythology is rich in a variety of beliefs and legends about the gods and spirits, which often represent different objects and phenomena of nature. Main character of the festival was a hero of Belarusian legends - Bolotnik, strict guardian of wetlands. Unusual guests arrived to Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve to congratulate Bolotnik on his birthday. There were the master of frost and cold Zuzya, Mermaids, Jeleznaya Baba, Ded Moroz and many others. During animation program they acquainted participants of the festival with folk beliefs and also learned to be more sensitive to nature and the world around. Expecting meeting with Bolotnik there also was a big entertainment program. Children and adults competed in agility and strength, jumping on the improvised bumps and completing quests from Zyuzya, draw, played different board games, treating with hot tea and pancakes.
Excursions in the Forest Zoo were also unusual on this day. The original inhabitants of the Belarusian forests and wetlands: wolves, foxes, bears and other animals became the heroes of many legends and beliefs, which guides told guests of the reserve.
Throughout the day everyone could visit the Museum of Nature and the House of Environmental Education. Three spacious halls of the museum acquaint visitors with fauna of the reserve: mammals, birds and fish. Also here one can buy souvenirs: clay figurines, magnets or the famous Belarusian embroidery. No less interesting was a trip to the House of Environmental Education. In addition to temporary exhibitions and photo exhibitions there are big conference hall, a library, a room for the storage of natural materials and much more in the building. But the most fascinating for visitors of the House of Environmental Education were intelligent and interactive games and activities, prepared by the staff of the reserve.
The culmination of the festival was the opening of the first in Belarus mythological trail performed in the unusual form of a night tour. During a walk through the magical forest, guests of the reserve were able to see and hear the spirits of nature: mermaids and Kikimora, Zazyvka and Arzhavenik, King of the snakes and his daughters as well as many other commonly invisible inhabitants of the forests and wetlands. Fairytale characters are not just scared or confused travelers, but also taught about simple but important things: nature is very sensitive to the way a person relates to it, and each of us can learn to understand and to love it if he or she would try to be considerate and careful.
We thank the employees of Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve for the organization of the Festival "Myths of the wetlands", an amazing journey to the magical world and the valuable experience in the sphere of tourism and environmental education, which we will certainly take on board.