A Very Merry Christmas to all Christian Orthodox who celebrate today the birth of Jesus Christ, We are not going to retell the purpose and meaning of this celebration and decided to instead take you to a journey to the wonderful land of Ukraine and take a look at one of the most beautiful celebration of Christmas by singing.
Of course we are talking about the joyful and heartwarming Ukrainian Christmas Carols, the expression of community, family, joy and unity around this great yearly event. It is a well rooted tradition since before Christianity, as a matter of fact many Ukrainian carols do not deal only with the birth of Baby Jesus, there are just as many about ancient legends and myths passed down orally, and plenty concerning the stories of the Kievan princesses and princes, keeping the historical memory alive. Singing is a moment of collective memory and celebration of unity.
There are two categories of carols, Kolyadki, sang and Christmas, and Shchedrivky sang at Epiphany (little fun fact,the worldwide famous Carol of the Bells originally is a popular Ukrainian Shchedrivka.
Caroling is fun, especially when groups of singers go from home to home bringing along that festive joy into every household, and in Ukraine its also serious business, the songs foresee use of different tonalities and rhythms which is quite complex and requires a choir leader to direct the other singers. In some parts of Ukraine carol dress code include that one of the singers wears a goat skin, and that one of the singers carries a long pole with the Star of Bethlehem and leads the rest of the singers, and one is tasked with a bag to collect the presents.
So, how does it work, carolers knock on the door and ask the dweller for permission to sing, if granted they enter the house and sing a carol for each family member present from the eldest to the toddlers, sometimes even perform ritual dances for the merriment and good fortune of the house, or perform funny sketches with the goat skin. Once the performance ends, the ritual foresees that the carolers perform a poem to wish the host family the happiest Christmas, and tradition requires for the poem to be a very personal. We at Rescogita would love to sing for you all some joyful Kolyadki, perhaps when we can all meet in person,why not. Also taking this opportunity to wish a Merry Christmas to our staff member and Guardian Angel, Alina Shumna.