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M. Germashev. «With a Star». 1916

Kolyadka (Ukrainian: колядка, Russian: колядка, Czech: koleda, Bulgarian: коледарска песен) is a traditional song usually sung in Eastern Slavic, Central Europe and Eastern Europe countries (Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech, Poland, Bulgaria, Belarus, Russia etc.) on Christmas holidays, usually between the January 7 and 14. At the same time Ukrainians use kolyadkas and schedrivkasuk between December 19 and January 19.[1][2] Catholic Christians and Protestants which live in these countries sing kolyadkas in Christmas Eve, January 24, and near this date. It is believed that everything sung about will come true.[3]

Singing Kolyadkas is a very common tradition in modern Ukraine. Kolyadkas are often sung in that countries where big diasporas are presents. Ukrainians which live in Canada (1 251 170 persons[4]) celebrate winter holidays singing kolyadkas as well.[5][6]

The history of kolyadkaEdit

Kolyadka was used from pre-Christian times In Ukraine.[7] Those songs were used with ritual purposes. First kolyadkas described ancient people's ideas about creation, natural phenomenons and structure of the world. With the advent of Christianity content of kolyadkas began to acquire the relevant religious meaning and features.

Thus now kolyadkas are mostly Christmas carols which describe the birth of Jesus Christ and biblical stories happened in connection with the event. However heathen roots are still there.

Ukrainians sing kolyadkas and schedrivkas from the holiday of Saint Mykolay or Saint Nicholas Day (December 19) till the holiday of baptism of Jesus (January 19).[8][9] There are other types of winter holidays ritual songs except kolyadkas in Ukraine, named schedrivkas and zasivalkas. In fact their purposes are clearly divided.[10] But in modern Ukrainian culture these concepts are intertwined, mixed and acquired traits of each other.

Kolyadkas which are dedicated to saintsEdit

There are several kolyadkas which are dedicated to Saint Mykolay in Ukraine. Among them: "Ой, хто, хто Миколая любить" ("Who Loves Saint Nicholas"),[11] "Ходить по землі Святий Миколай" ("Saint Mykolay Walks Around The World"),[12] "Миколай, Миколай ти до нас завітай!" (Mykolay, Mykolay, Come To Visit Us!).[13]

Serbians and Montenegrins sing kolyadkas dedicated to Saint Nicholas in their churches. Slovaks, Czechs and sometimes Belarusians sing kolyadkas not only on Saint Nicholas Day (which they celebrate on December 6),[14] but on Saint Stephen Day (December 26) too.[15]

"The Little Swallow"Edit

One of the most popular kolyadka (schedrivka) in the world is Ukrainian "Щедрик" ("Shchedryk"), known in English as "The Little Swallow". This carol has pre-Christian roots. Folk song was arranged by Ukrainian composer and teacher Mykola Leontovych in 1916. "Shchedryk" was later adapted as an English Christmas carol, "Carol of the Bells", by popular American composer, educator, and choral conductor of Ukrainian ethnic extraction Peter J. Wilhousky following a performance of the original song by Alexander Koshetz's Ukrainian National Chorus at Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1921. Peter J. Wilhousky copyrighted and published his new lyrics (which actually were not based on the Ukrainian lyrics) in 1936.

Conceptually Ukrainian lyrics of this song meets the definition of schedrivka while English content of "Carol of the Bells" indicates it as kolyadka or Christmas carol in other words.

On December 9, 2016, Georgian-born British singer Katie Melua and The Gori Women's Choir (which is conducted by Teona Tsiramua) sang original Ukrainian "Shchedryk" on BBC.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Хорова капела "Дударик" — Новини". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  2. ^ Українська естрада (2015-12-21), ВІА "Ватра" - Від Миколая до Йордана (концерт 1992), retrieved 2017-01-26
  3. ^ "::Best of Ukraine ::Holidays in Ukraine". Retrieved 2007-05-08.
  4. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "unknown". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  5. ^ "Ukrainian folk music Canada Toronto, Christmas song, коляда, колядки — Скачать mp3 песни без регистрации —". (in Russian). Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  6. ^ "Ukrainian Folk Music Canada Toronto Christmas Song Band Homerlas - Music Host". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  7. ^ "Святість "ізпрежди віка" - Український тиждень, Тиждень.ua". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  8. ^ MsUpucka (2013-12-19), Євромайдан. Діти співають колядки на Миколая., retrieved 2017-01-26
  9. ^ "Щедрівки та віншування на Водохреща (відео) – Золочів.нет". (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  10. ^ "Топ-10 українських засівалок на свято Василя (14 січня)". Щастя-Здоровля (in Ukrainian). 2017-01-13. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  11. ^ Zakharii (2012-04-10), Ой Хто Хто Миколая любить (Who loves St. Nicholas) - Ukrainian Christmas carol, retrieved 2017-01-26
  12. ^ Zakharii (2014-01-02), Ходить по землі Святий Миколай (Sviatyj Mykolaj) - Ukrainian song, retrieved 2017-01-26
  13. ^ Zakharii (2013-12-15), Миколай, Миколай ти до нас завітай! -- Ukrainian song "St. Nicholas", retrieved 2017-01-26
  14. ^ JPC-DESIGN, whychristmas?com /. "Christmas in Slovakia on whychristmas?com". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  15. ^ "26 Декабря - Святого Стефана - праздники Чехии от". (in Russian). Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  16. ^ Christmas Music Videos (2016-12-17), Katie Melua & The Gori Women's Choir - The Little Swallow (Ukrainian language of Carol of the Bells), retrieved 2017-01-26