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"Kolyada has come!": How a pagan holiday turned into the main Christmas rite of Orthodox Christians
"Kolyada has come!": How a pagan holiday turned into the main Christmas rite of Orthodox Christians
Kolyada came on the eve of Christmas!

Today, for many, Christmas and Kolyada are two holidays that are difficult to separate. But this is not at all the case. In the days of paganism, when there was no Christianity in Russia yet, the Kolyada holiday already existed. He was dedicated not to Jesus Christ, but to the now forgotten Dazhdbog. People rejoiced at the addition of the day and thanked God for this, singing carols.

What is Kolyada

Kolyada is a Slavic holiday that today starts from Christmas and lasts until Epiphany, that is, it runs from January 7 to January 19. On these days, rituals are held that are dedicated to Christmas. Previously, Kolyada began with Christmastide, that is, on December 25 and ended on January 6.

Kolyada is an ancient pagan holiday

Of course, the holiday has changed over the centuries, but the main traditions have survived to this day. All the same as before, the celebrants put on outfits, for the manufacture of which animal skins and horns are used. Put on the funniest and scariest masks. Carols, that is, they sing holiday songs, receiving various gifts from the listeners. The girls are wondering, hoping to find out who will be the groom.

How we prepared and celebrated Kolyada before

They prepared for Kolyada in advance and paid great attention to this. The hostesses cooked, trying to prepare as many delicious dishes as possible. Pancakes, pies, different types of meat, cereals, casseroles - all the fun. The women did the general cleaning, trying to make everything shine like the sun's rays. All family members attended the bathhouse, in which they washed and steamed properly. They also sewed and made various outfits for caroling.

When the day of celebration came, the celebration began, and it went according to a certain scenario.

People went to temples (pagan at that time), where they performed sacrificial rites. Ancient legends say that the Slavs decorated their faces, put on masks and outfits, and in this form they praised the gods. The chief was chosen, called the sorcerer, who performed the sacrifice. This was usually the head of the family. A pet or bird was sacrificed, whose blood was sprayed to scare away evil spirits. Young people sang carols and read fortunes.

The villagers have always celebrated Kolyada

In the old days, the celebration of Kolyada was celebrated noisily. Young people gathered to go from house to house in large, cheerful companies. They carried the sun on the pole, a symbol of the holiday, and after the advent of Christianity, the sun was replaced by a star (a symbol of the birth of Jesus). The crowd knocked on the buckets with sticks and spoons, shouted loudly in different ways, someone imitated the bleating of a goat, someone bellowed like a cow, someone barked like a dog.

When the main part was finished, people began to feast on the festive meal. They ate the meat of sacrificial animals, drank from a common bowl. After a hearty dinner, the "games" began, the time for songs, dances, fun began. On the second day, taking pies with them, people went to carol. Children were always the first to perform, then girls, and only then adult women and men.

As noted by Kolyada in the last century

Over the past hundred years, the rules have remained virtually unchanged. If Kolyada was celebrated, it was like this: on Christmas Eve it was customary not to eat, to wait for the evening, for the appearance of the first star. As soon as she was seen, dishes were put on the table, among which were obligatory kutia and uzvar from dried fruits, meat and butter delicacies.

On Christmas Day, January 7, people went to visit their godchildren to congratulate them and give them souvenirs.In the evening, young people dressed in festive costumes went to sing carols. It is important that one person in the group must have been wearing a goat costume.

The owners listened to the songs, watched the dances, thanked, and in return handed out delicious food (cookies, muffins, cakes, sausage - whatever). Not many dared not to let the carols, as this is a bad omen.

Today Kolyada is no longer celebrated on such a grand scale as before

In the cities, Kolyada took place in a more civilized manner. Usually, a fun festive program was organized in the center, a fair was held, during balls, rich townspeople gathered to dance and celebrate the holiday in some posh mansion. It must be said that after the adoption of Christianity, the church tried to prohibit the customs of caroling, worship of pagan gods; priests and believers more and more often walked around the courtyards telling about the birth of Christ. But it was not possible to eradicate the tradition, in many villages and towns Kolyada was celebrated and celebrated according to the old script.

Believe in omens or not?

Many folk signs are associated with Kolyada. For example, it was not recommended to weave sandals on Christmas so that the child would not be born crooked. And if you sew on Christmas - then the baby could be blind.

If there was a snowstorm at Christmas, then a good swarm of bees could be expected. The frost that appeared on the days of the holiday symbolized a fruitful grain year. Starry sky - peas will be born. The roads are not covered with snow - there will be no problems with buckwheat, a lot will grow. If you want the chickens to rush well, put the carolers on the doorstep.

S. Akenshin. Christmas carols. The Kolyada holiday often turned into a real show

A special place for fortune-telling

“Once on the Epiphany evening, the Girls wondered: For the gate, they took their slipper off their feet, and threw them.” This is how the Russian poet and translator VA Zhukovsky wrote in his poem “Svetlana”.

Unmarried girls wondered, usually on the eve of the Nativity of Christ until January 14. In the old days, it was believed that this was the best period in order to find out your fate, to see the future groom.

There were many rituals, and each one was interesting in its own way. For example, a girl went out into the yard and threw her boots over the fence. If he fell toe to the house, then you could not dream of a wedding in the new year. But if the toe was in the other direction, then it really was necessary to understand where the boot indicated, where the future groom would come from. Yes, the boot had to be on the left foot.

Yu. Sergeev. Illustration for the poem by Vasily Zhukovsky "Svetlana"

Fortune telling on the rings was especially popular. In this case, a whole company of girls gathered. The sieve was filled with cereals, and put a silver, gold, metal and a ring decorated with a stone in it. Everything was thoroughly mixed, and the girls began to scoop out of the sieve with their palms. If you come across a silver ring - the groom will be made of simple ones, a gold one - wait, a merchant will get married, a ring with a stone - a boyar will marry, a metal one - alas, the groom will be poor. The girls found themselves in the worst situation, having scooped up only cereals: this year they were not expected to marry.

A quick marriage was predicted by two needles, smeared with grease and dipped in water. But only if they did not sink. It was possible to ask about the fate of the log. The girl pulled it out with closed eyes and then examined it. A crooked, rough log meant an ugly husband, and vice versa.

Kolyada today

Today Kolyada is gradually forgotten, and some do not even know that such a holiday exists and in what period it is celebrated. But this applies mainly to large cities. But in the villages, Kolyada is remembered and celebrated. Of course, the scenario of the holiday is no longer as voluminous as in ancient times, and often people confine themselves to singing carols and fortune telling.

A. Mitsnik. Ukraine for Christmas Today Kolyada is celebrated in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus

Carollers, most often children, gather and go around relatives, neighbors, acquaintances, asking them to allow them to poke around. In response, the owners invite carols, thank them for the festive joyful news and give them small gifts and gifts. Today it can be money, and not nuts, sweets and fruits, as before. It happens that musical groups or church choirs act as carolers.

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