« 2019. № 5 (149)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2019, № 5 (149), 1211—1219

UDK 398.88(=161.2)





candidate of Philological Sciences,

a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology

of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,

15 Svobody Avenue, 79000, Lviv, Ukraine


Abstract. The article is devoted to the analysis of the principle of metamorphosis in Ukrainian carols with apocryphal motifs, which constitute the source base and object of the work. The purpose of the study is to unravel the meaning and function of the metamorphosis in these texts, the connection between the images of change, that codifies the experience of many generations, to find out the role and place of folk symbols. It is important, without a doubt, to consider the impact on the act of transforming people’s beliefs, Christian factors, moral and ethical norms, social realities and more. The article focuses on the main types of incarnation: the conversion of the tears of the Lord or other saint into a river, well, sea (metamorphosis of eminent character); the blood of the Savior into wine or the church; separate parts of Jesus’ body into different objects. The binary character of such changes in Ukrainian carols is indicated: mythological origin and later Christian influences. These include the motive of the appearance of rivers from human blood: blood — well — Danube — in the texts about the bathing of Christ and the dispute with the Apostle Peter. The semantics of water and fire as a matter of creation, often backed by the image of the world tree, is common in works about the transformation of sparks into three seas, the tear of the Lord into wheat. We trace the combination of Christian and pagan motifs in the texts about the change of the blood of Christ to the church and the tears to the wine. The sources of such metamorphosis may be the mythological notions as well as the biblical story about the conversion of water into wine in Cana of Galilee, the Christian doctrine of the church as the «Body of Jesus Christ». Metamorphosis of individual parts of the body of Jesus into different objects (thrones, candles, books, images, bells), despite Christian influences, is also of ancient origin. It is based on mythological beliefs about the emergence of individual parts of the world from the body of the first person. It is proved that the connection between incoming and outgoing images of change is regulated by folk symbols. Structural-semantic, structural-semiotic, textual, comparative, interdisciplinary methods, field research method were used to fulfill the purpose and tasks of the work.

Keywords: metamorphosis, carol, apocryphal motives, mythological consciousness, folk symbolism.

Received 28.09.2019


Kyrchiv, R. (2010). The twentieth century in Ukrainian folklore. Lviv: Institute of Ethnology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine [in Ukrainian].
Myshanych, S. (2003). Modern life of the Ukrainian folk ballad in the Carpathians. In Myshanych, S. Folklore and literary studies (Vol. 1, pp. 255—297). Donetsk: Donetsk National University [in Ukrainian].
Kostomarov, N. (1994). Slavic mythology. In Kostomarov, M. Slavic Mythology: Selected Works in Folklore and Literary Studies (pp. 201—252). Kyiv: Lybid [In Russian].
Hnatiuk, V. (1981). Some attention to the fable. In Notes of the Shevchenko Scientific Society. Hnatyuk, V. Selected articles on folk art: on the 110th anniversary of his birth (Vol. 201, pp. 185—205). New York [in Ukrainian].
Yaschurzhinskiy, Kh. (1991). On Transformations in malorusski fairy tales. In Ponomarov, A., & others (Eds.). Ukrainians: folk beliefs, beliefs, demonology (pp. 554—574). Kyiv: Lybid [in Russian].
Hrushevskyi, M. (1994). History of Ukrainian Literature: in 6 volumes, 9 books (Vol. 1; Vol. 4, B. 2). Kyiv: Lybid [in Ukrainian].
Kolessa, F. (1970). A ballad about a Bird-Daughter in Slavic folk poetry. In Kolessa, F. Folklore works (pp. 109—163). Kyiv: Naukova dumka [in Ukrainian].
Dei, O.I. (1988). Family ballads. In Dei, O. I. & others (Eds.). Ballads. Family relations (pp. 7—22). Kyiv: Naukova dumka [in Ukrainian].
Dunaievska, L.F. (1987). Ukrainian folk tale. Kyiv: High School [in Ukrainian].
Sokil, V.V. (1995). Folk legends and traditions of the Carpathian Ukrainians. Kyiv: Naukova dumka [in Ukrainian].
Eremina, V.I. (1991). Ritual and folklore. Leningrad: Science, Leningrad department [in Russian].
Kolessa, F. (1938). Ukrainian Oral Literature. Lviv [in Ukrainian].
Smirnovai N. Author’s interpretation of the reception of metamorphosis in the literature of the twentieth century (based on the works of F. Kafka, R. Bradbury, V. Zayets). Retrieved from:…6/…/SmirnovaN.pdf.
Vinogradova, L.N. (1982). Winter calendar poetry of the western and eastern Slavs. Genesis and typology of carols. Moscow: Science [in Russian].
Franko, I. (1980). Causes to the history of Rus’ literature of the eighteenth century. In Franko, I. Collection of works: in 50 volumes (Vol. 27, pp. 16—23). Kyiv: Naukova Dumka [in Ukrainian].
Franko, I. (1899). Preface. In Franko, I. (Ed.). Apocrypha and legends from Ukrainian manuscripts (Vol. 2, pp. I—LXXVIII). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
Chubinskiy, P.P. (Ed.). (1872). Works of an ethnographic-statistical expedition to the West Russian Territory, equipped by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. Southwestern Division (Vol. 1, 3). St. Petersburg [in Ukrainian].
Rybakov, B.F. (1987). Paganism of Ancient Rus. Moscow: Science [in Russian].
Hnatiuk, V. (Ed.). (1914). Christmas carols and generosity (Vol. 1). In Ethnographic collection (Vol. 35). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
Shukhevych, V. (Ed.). (1904). Hutsulshchyna (Vol. 4). In Materials to Ukrainian-Rus’ ethnology (Vol. 7). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
Vinogradova, L.N. (2009). River. In Tolstoy, N. I. (Ed.). Slavic antiquities: an ethnolinguistic dictionary (Vol. 4, pp. 416—419). Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyie otnosheniya [in Russian].
Sokil, V. (Ed.). (2003). Historical legends of Ukrainians. Lviv: M. Kots Publishing House [in Ukrainian].
Potebnya, A.A. (1887). Explanations of malorusski and related folk songs (Vol. 2). Warsaw [in Russian].
Krokhmalnyi, R.O. (2005). Metamorphosis and text: semantic, creative structure and ideological role of change of artistic image. Lviv [in Ukrainian].
Belova, O.V. (2004). Nikolay. In Tolstoy, N.I. (Ed.). Slavic antiquities: an ethnolinguistic dictionary (Vol. 3, pp. 398—401). Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyie otnosheniya [in Russian].
Sosenko, K. (1928). Cultural and historical figure of the old Ukrainian holidays of Christmas and the Generous Evening. Lviv [in Ukrainian].
Vinogradova, L.N., & Tolstoy, S.M. (2009). Dew. In Tolstoy, N.I. (Ed.). Slavic antiquities: an ethnolinguistic dictionary (Vol. 4, pp. 470—474). Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyie otnosheniya [in Russian].
Kliuka, V.B. (2006). Trees-symbols in carols: an attempt of semantic interpretation. Scientific visnyk (Issue 79—83) [in Ukrainian].
Valentsova, M.M., & Vinogradova, L.N. (1999). Well. In Tolstoy, N.I. (Ed.). Slavic antiquities: an ethnolinguistic dictionary (Vol. 2, pp. 536—541). Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyie otnosheniya [in Russian].
Zozulia, N. (2009). Jordan candles — «trinity». Folklore and ethnology, 4—5, 82—84 [in Ukrainian].
Belova, O.V. (1999). Blood. In Tolstoy, N.I. (Ed.). Slavic antiquities: an ethnolinguistic dictionary (Vol. 2, pp. 677—681). Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyie otnosheniya [in Russian].
Pylypchuk, S. (2010). The Christmas carol genre in the scientific reception of Ivan Franko. Visnyk of the Lviv university (Vol. 51, pp. 129—139). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
Toporov, V.N. (1982). The first person. In Tokarev, S.A. (Ed.). Myths of the world: encyclopedia (Vol. 2, pp. 300—302) [in Russian].
Franko, I. (Ed.). (2006). Apocrypha and legends from Ukrainian manuscripts (Vol. 1. The Old Testament Apocrypha: a preprint of the 1896 edition). Lviv: Ivan Franko National University of Lviv [in Ukrainian].


Our authors
Boikos’ pandemonium: categories of evil deceased
In the article have been presented some research-work on peculiarities of Boikos’ traditional demonological notions as for so-called evil deceased; on the basis of field records and ethnological literary sources quite a number of scum categories have been defined as well as essential habits, modes of behavior and functions of these personages of people’s demonology.
Read »

On bessarabian and moldavian ukrainians in the studies of historical ethnography
The article has thrown some light upon a sum of scientific findings got during XIX to XXI cc. in historio-ethnographic studies of Bessarabia and Moldavian Ukrainians. In the pre­sent paper has been given author’s answer to the problem of lacking progress as for the numerous themes concerning Ukrainians. State and achievements of the research-works in Ukrainians’ material and spiritual culture by the scientists of Moldavia and Ukraine through the years of independence has been exposed.
Read »

On field exploration of russian and belarusian ethnologists and etnolinguists in Ukrainian Polisia 1945—1980s
In the study based on a wide range of literary materials have been comprehensively characterised field research in Polisia of Ukraine, performed by Russian and Belarusian ethnologists during 1945—1980s as well as Moscow ethnolinguists and other researchers from ethnologic centres of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in the course of realization of Ethnolinguistic Atlas of Polisia program. Particular attention has been paid to geography, methods, themes and research results of scientific projects.
Read »

Wax candle as ukrainian Christmas and epiphany ritualistic text
For the first time in native ethnology the article has brought some results of special study in sign functionality of a wax candle under the context of Ukrainian Christmas and Epiphany ritualistic text (ritualism of Christmas Eve, New Year, Epiphany Eve and Feast of Epiphany). The study has stated extremely high semiotic position of a wax candle as projection of Sun, mediator between the spheres of sacral and prophane elements, symbolic analogue of human existence, apotropy, cultural symbol re-establishing borders of acculturated space.
Read »