With a grain of irony, Belarusians are called Bulbash. Although the Belarusians themselves, the villagers, and even the intelligentsia, and even more so, perceive their nickname very ambiguously.
It is believed that the Belarusians have been called bulbashi since time immemorial, but this statement is incorrect. In pre-revolutionary Russia, such a word was not used anywhere; it was not possible to find it in the dictionaries of that time. And in general, the history of the origin of the word "bulbashi" is still not entirely clear to this day. According to some linguists, this word appeared only during the Great Patriotic War.
The pro-fascist partisan army under the command of Taras Bulba-Borovets was conducting active military operations on the territory of Polesye and in Ukraine. From the name of the leader came the name of the members of this group - Bulbashi. Taras Bulba-Borovets himself never considered himself a Belarusian nationalist - only Ukrainian. He called his army the Ukrainian Military Organization.
According to another version, bulba (potatoes) began to be grown in Belarus since the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which included the country at that time. The version that the Russians were the first to call Belarusians "bulbash" is untenable. Potatoes appeared in Russia much later. The Russians got acquainted with potatoes only during the first split of the Commonwealth.
The Latin bulbus has a closer sound to the word "bulba", so it is not surprising that during the domination of Catholicism in Belarus, this word turned into "bulba", and from here into "bulbasha".
The legend that Peter I brought potatoes to Russia from Holland … is also incorrect. He brought a bag of Jerusalem artichoke.
In the 17th century, a fierce struggle was waged between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican for the priority of Orthodoxy over Catholicism and Uniateism. The clergy, fighting against Catholicism, called the imported overseas fruit "a damn apple", told all sorts of passions about those who eat it. In fact, the "Bulbash" were renegades from the ROC - the Uniates. The Litvin (as the Belarusians were then called) grew up on their plots and ate Jerusalem artichoke, and therefore also fell under the wrath of Russian Orthodoxy.
Negatively referring to their nickname, Belarusians should remember that this word came from the ancient Belarusians and only much later was adopted by the Russians, moreover, with a pejorative meaning. By this nickname is meant the individual farmer, uncommunicative and on his own mind. While treating the Bulbash with prejudice, they nevertheless recognize their hard work and perseverance in achieving the set goal.