Kolyada (holiday): history and traditions
Most people in our time believe that Christmas and Kolyada are inextricably linked. In fact, even from pagan times, when Christianity was not even accepted in Russia, and people believed in different gods, there already existed such a tradition as Kolyada. This holiday was dedicated to the heavenly god Dazhbog.
Ancient people believed that after the winter solstice the sky god awakens, and the duration of the day begins to increase, and the nights begin to decrease. Our ancestors were grateful to Dazhbog and began to praise him with the help of ritual songs - carols.
Since that time, many customs have forgotten and changed, but still we adhere to many traditions, although somewhat differently, now.
The essence of the holiday
Kolyada is a festival of the Slavs, the national name of Christmas and Svyatok, which continues today from 7 to 19 January (Epiphany).
The main purpose of Kolyada is to conduct rituals dedicated to the Christmas Eve. The main traditions that have survived to some extent in our time are:
- dressing in various outfits, in particular made of animal skins and horns, the use of masks;
- Caroling, the performance of Christmas carols;
- Thanks to the carol-singers and giving them sweets, food, coins and other things;
- Games of young people;
- Divination of unmarried girls.
Kolyada is a holiday that was the largest and most important in the winter since the time of the Gentiles, just as Christmas is now for all Christians.
When celebrate the festival of Christmas carols
Kolyada is a festival of the Slavs, the date with which the Christmas Eve began (December 25 is the day of the winter solstice), and they continued until January 6. Thus, even before the adoption of Christianity, the people conducted the ceremonies of Kolyada, praising the sky god - Dazhdbog.
On what date was Kolyada celebrated after the adoption of Christianity? Pagan celebrations merged with the birthday of Jesus Christ, and Christmas trees already celebrated from December 6 to 19, that is, from Christmas to Epiphany. These Christmas traditions have survived to this day.
Interrelation of the Solstice and Kolyada
The festival of Christmas carols was celebrated in honor of the revival of the sun on the day of the winter solstice. On December 25, people did not just celebrate the New Year - they believed that this day the birth of a new luminary and agricultural activities is taking place.
AS Famintsyn in a book called "Deities of the Ancient Slavs", written in 1884, pointed out that in ancient writings there are mentions of two gods - Kupala (the god of the summer solstice) and Kolyada (the god of the winter solstice).
AN Afanasiev in the book "Poetic views of the Slavs on nature" mentioned that the sun was the embodiment of a happy and divine life. The solar deity was considered to be the most luminous, kind and merciful; that stimulates all living organisms to life, gives food and help to people.
It was believed that the luminary is inextricably linked with fate, so a person asked for help from him when persecuted for his difficulties and failures. Also the sun had to resist evil, darkness and cold.
Thus, the Slavic holiday of Kolyada and the performance of carols are rituals dedicated to the sun god who show the special attitude of our ancestors to the light.
Interpretation of the name of the holiday
Kolyada is a pagan holiday, and its name dates back to ancient times.
One of the versions of the origin of the word "Kolyada" says that it went from "colo" - "sun". It protected people from darkness, and on December 25 a new and young luminary was born, which helped to increase the light day and reduce the night.
Another opinion was held by Dmitry Shchepkin, and it consists in the fact that the word "Kolyada" means "circular food or circular dishes", "around going". This can be explained by the fact that the caroling companies walked with a den in all the yards, danced and sang Christmas carols, they were rewarded with gifts for this, and they after all ate the food they had eaten together.
In addition, there are opinions that "Kolyada" comes from the words:
- "deck" - lit stake;
- "colo" - round, wheel;
- from the Latin word "calendars", ie, "the first day of the month".
In the etymological dictionary, the meaning of the word is explained as "the custom that is associated with the beginning of the year," which is characteristic even for pre-Christian times, and after the adoption of Christianity, the Slavic holiday of Kolyada was attached to the birthday of Jesus Christ.
According to the ethnolinguistic dictionary (Slavic antiquities), the word has pagan roots. And Strakhov argues that there is nothing pre-Slavic and pagan in Kolyada, and this term was adopted as an expression of the clergy (literally: "gifts or offerings that were collected by the clergy" or "content for the New Year").
How did the Christmas carols prepare for the holiday?
Kolyada - a holiday that was the biggest and most important for the people. Based on this, it can be argued that we prepared for it in advance and carefully. Simple people (even from the poorest families):
- prepared a large number of dishes, in particular with meat, and for this, a pig was pricked;
- cleaned carefully throughout the house;
- well steam in a bath;
- They were preparing new clothes, in particular for caroling.
One thing has remained unchanged: as long ago as now, we are striving to meet the New Year holidays cleaned up both physically and spiritually.
How long since celebrated Kolyada?
Most ethnographers agree that even in pre-Christian times there was such a custom as Kolyada. The history of the holiday is interesting and fascinating, many traditions and rituals have survived to our time, but some have lost their force and were changed.
Celebrations and ceremonies Carols were held in the following order:
1. The first part of the celebration consisted in the fact that a large number of people came to pagan temples (kapischam) in order to perform the ritual of sacrifice and to communicate with the gods, to become closer to them.
As the legends say, the people gathered near the rivers, in the woods, near the fire, and thanked and praised their gods, asked for repentance and future blessings. There were their faces at the same time decorated, in masks, they were dressed in skins and other clothes, they held spears, shields and horns of animals, made sacrifices and guessed.
For the ritual of sacrifice and divination, a sorcerer was needed - a man who provided communication with the gods. In the family, this role was performed by the elder man. Before the divination, birds or animals were usually sacrificed. In this case, the blood was spilled and sprinkled around to ward off evil spirits. Parts of the animal, not intended for food, buried in the ground, burned in the fire or stoked in the river.
The elders killed a pet, appealing to the gods. At this time, young girls and boys wondered and performed carols that praised Kolyada, the god of the young Sun.
2. The second part of Kolyada was dedicated to a general meal. People ate the food that was sacrificed, drank in turn from the bowl, which was passed around in a circle. At the same time carols were performed, praised the gods Navi and the Rulers and asked for help for good people.
3. In the third part of the celebration there were so-called "merrymaking": people performed various songs, danced to the Slavic folk instruments.
The festival of Kolyada (Sunspot) had its own customs and characteristics and the next day:
- At first, children went to caroling for several people. They took 2 pies with them, which were divided equally among all and eaten after the performance of carols.
- Afterwards there were young girls (future brides) and sang ritual songs. They gave them all a few rolls and cakes.
- In the end, all women and men are caroling, they were also given kalachi and gingerbread.
Holiday scenario Kolyada
And today, how do they celebrate the holiday? Kolyada passes in a whirlwind of ceremonial festivities. The script was and remains the next, despite the additions and changes that are made by different peoples:
1. On Christmas Eve (January 6) people did not eat anything until the evening. But as soon as the first star appeared in the sky, they sat down to supper with the whole family. On the table this evening there should be 12 dishes, of which kutya and a jug of dried fruits (apples and pears) are obligatory, as well as meat rich meals (pancakes, cabbage rolls, vareniki, homemade sausage).
It has long been customary among our ancestors to put hay under a tablecloth, which should have been there until January 14 - Shchedreets.
2. The next morning - January 7 - comes the biggest winter holiday of the Nativity of Christ. On this particular day it is customary to go to the godparents and give them presents.
After dinner, young girls and boys dress up in different animals and gypsies and groups of 10-15 people go with carols. One of the company of carol players should dress up as a goat. In some regions (in particular, in Western Ukraine) it is customary to walk with a large homemade star. Carol singers sing songs glorifying the earth, asking for a good future, dancing and having fun. For this the owners generously thank them and give them different goodies and money.
It was believed that if the owners did not unlock the door for carers, then this could cause trouble for the family and poverty.
3. The next day after Christmas was the day of St. Stephen. It was on this day that the owner had to fully pay off his workers, and they, in turn, could express everything that had accumulated over the past year. Then they decided whether to conclude a new agreement to continue cooperation or disagree.
A little differently celebrated city residents this Slavic holiday (Kolyada). His script was as follows:
- Conducting a festive program and festivities in the park and in the city center;
- organization of the fair;
- Ball and dance (arranged for the rich citizens).
Children, like today, could enjoy the Christmas tree, gifts, go to plays and dance programs.
4. The festivities celebrated on the 14th of January. On this day, not only sang and danced, but also chose the most beautiful girl of the village. She was dressed, wore a wreath, ribbons, she headed a team of beauties who walked around the courtyards and were generous. The hosts and on this day tried as best as possible and give more generous to the coming year was successful and rich.
Place kutya during Christmas carols
The holiday of Kolyada among the ancient Slavs did not pass without a kutya. There were 3 special holy evenings, each of which was prepared ritual porridge, and different:
1. The Lenten with nuts, dried fruits, poppy seeds and Uzvar was cooked on the first Christmas evening - January 6th. Such a mess was called a great kutya.
2. On January, 13th - on the eve of New year on old style - prepared the second kutyu which was called rich or generous. On this day all sorts of pretty hearty dishes were served on the table, and even the porridge was dressed with fat, lard, butter and slop.
3. The third kutya - on the eve of Epiphany on January 18 - was called hungry and was, as the first, lean, cooked on the water. There was a tradition that the head of the family went out on that street and drew crosses on all the gates, the gate and the doors to protect the inhabitants of the house and the family from evil forces, troubles and bad weather.
The holiday of Kolyada in Russia was not celebrated during the USSR, but in the 1960s Slavic traditions began to revive, and in the 90s they began to return to Russian families at full speed. Today they carouse in the Holy evening - from 6 to 7 January, with many customs returning: children and young people change into festive outfits, take a star with them, learn ritual songs. The hosts, in turn, try to generously thank the caroling people so that the year will be successful and rich.
Place of fortune-telling on holidays Kolyada
Divination on holidays Kolyada took a special place, they were usually held from the evening before the Nativity of Christ and until January 14 (New Year in the old style). It was believed that it was during these days that girls can find out their destiny and reveal the secret of the future, to see the groom and even to foresee the date of the wedding. There were many rituals. The most popular of them are the following:
1. The girl had to go out into the yard and toss the boot from her left foot through the fence. Then watch how he fell. If a sock to the house, then this year she will not get married, if in the opposite, then look in which direction the boot indicates - say, from there and you need to wait for the mated.
2. Take 2 needles, spread them with fat or fat and dip them into the water. If they were drowning right away, then the year was foreshadowed unsuccessful, and if they stayed afloat, moreover, they joined, it was worth waiting for a rich year and an early marriage.
3. We also wondered about the logs. A young girl from the wood-log was pulling blindly one stump and looking at it intently. If he was rough, then the cut off will be with unsightly appearance, if smooth and smooth, then the future husband will be handsome and handsome. A lot of knots on the stump pointed to the fact that the guy would be from a family with a lot of sisters and brothers. If a curved and twisted log was encountered, the groom will be with external defects (curve, pockmarked, etc.)
4. Guessing on rings. It consisted in that any rump or rye, wheat was covered in a sieve, four kinds of rings were put here: metal, silver, with pebble and gold, and mixed it all well. For this divination the company from unmarried girls gathered, each of which scooped up one handful of contents:
- if there was only grain, then this year the girl will not marry at all;
- If a simple metal ring, then she will marry a poor guy;
- if the ring is silver, the groom will be simple;
- a ring with a pebble foretold the family life with the boyar;
- a gold ring - a sign that a girl will marry a merchant.
5. There is also a fortune telling for which you need to take a bowl and fill it with corn, prepare paper pieces, one of which is to write the coveted name of the betrothed, the rest to leave empty. Take a handful of grain and watch from what time the desired leaf will fall:
- if from the first, then the girl should wait for a speedy matchmaking;
- From the second - means, you will have to face some difficulties;
- from the third - the young one deceives you, it is better not to believe his words;
- from the fourth - the guy is completely indifferent to you.
Young girls also wondered:
- at midnight in the bath;
- with a mirror, expecting to see him as a betrothed;
- on water and candles.
One of the main traditions was wheeling. For this, a large wooden circle in the form of a wheel was set on fire and rolled up the mountain and from the mountain. Here you can clearly see the connection of the Slavic traditions and ceremonies of Kolyada, because the burning wheel, of course, symbolized the sun, and by the fact that it rolled uphill, they helped to add light.
The history of caroling
Carols usually sang not in the house, but directly under the windows. Young girls asked for permission to enter and then sang "grapes", widespread in the North. Here, caroling people were presented not with pies or sweets, but with ritual cookies in the form of animals, birds. These crusts were made from a long-lasting dough, they were valuable and expensive for every family, because they were kept all year long, so that the housewares did not get lost on the way home and multiply. They made such cookies before, but with the image of the symbols that were addressed to the gods (the sign of the genus or the sun).
The ceremony of caroling was carried out during the week, beginning on December 25 (Christmas according to the Julian calendar). The main attributes of such a procession were:
1. The star. They made it out of solid paper - large, about a yard (about 0.7 meters) - and lit up with a candle. The star was eight-pointed, painted with bright colors.
2. The Den. It was made from a box with two tiers, in which were placed figures of wood, depicting the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Under the windows the carol singers performed brief prayer songs, and only one of the group on the owner's permission could enter the house and receive refreshments and small money.
Kolyada is a holiday, during which 5-10 groups with a star could visit one courtyard in large villages of Russia, and each of them the owners tried to give generously.
The pagan roots of the holiday
So, what is Kolyada? The essence of the holiday boils down to the following: it is a list of Old Slavic rituals, praising and praising the pagan god of the young sun. According to many sources, Kolyada was still the god of merry feasts.
The main version of the origin of the holiday is that the luminary was celebrated on the day of the winter solstice. There was even a legend in this regard. Snake Korotun devoured the Sun, and the goddess Kolyada helped people and produced a new, young luminary - Bozhich. People try to help the goddess and protect the newborn from the serpent by singing and loud cries, dressing up in scary costumes from animal skins and using horns. With carols, young people walk around all the yards to report that a new young sun was born.
After the adoption of Christianity, the church in every possible way prohibited the customs of caroling and worship of the gods, but it was not possible to eradicate the ancient traditions and rituals. Therefore, priests and believing people began to walk around the yards, informing them that Jesus Christ was born and praising him. These customs have survived to our time. Although such performers of carols were often not given at all by the owners, on the contrary, they tried to avoid it. In Polesye, the believers were not allowed to visit the house, as it was believed that there would not be a harvest of millet, and those who caressed according to the old custom were generously rewarded and thanked.