« 2023. # 1 (169)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2023. № 1 (169), 227—239

UDK [398.8(=161.2):398.33]:801.81 




  • Doctor of Philology, Professor,
  • Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University,
  • of the Departament of Ukrainian Literature,
  • 13, Prospect Voli, Lutsk, 43025, Ukraine,
  • Contacts: e-mail:

Abstract. The relevance of the study is defined by the need to consider the origin of Koliada tradition regarding its spread and the correspondence of the phenology of folklore texts to those calendar milestones, which have been followed since at least the 19th century.

The purpose of the article is to analyze the conformity of established opinions about the Greco-Roman vector of Koliada spread to Ukrainian lands with the real facts of its existence in the phenological context, reflected in the texts of carols and rare facts of non-traditional use of carols in «inappropriate» calendar terms.

The object of the research is the established opinions of well-known scientists regarding the origin and spread of Koliada traditions in Ukraine in the light of new or little-known but revealing facts. Having applied a phenological approach to Uk rainian carols, the author assumes the autochthonous origin not only of their texts but also of their genre. Greco-Roman influences, which many authors saw in Ukrainian caroling traditions, only concern religious samples, that is, psalms. As for Ukrainian secular carols, they mainly reflect agrarian economic processes, which are not characteristic of either the Greeks or the Romans. The very name of the genre is of Slavic origin, and the Roman calendar is rather derived from it since it does not have a clear etymology in any of the Romance languages, and besides, the name of the holiday, along with kalenda or kolinda, has other authentic names with transparent etymology. Mostly, the word «carol» is used only where the word «circle» is known. In addition to the Slavic countries, only Romania and Hungary can be considered the result of borrowing. It is not characteristic of Muscovites either, who have a completely different meaning of the winter calendar rites. Ukrainian carols have the widest phenological range of their application. They present such labor processes as plowing, sowing, weeding, trubbing, harvesting, and the completion of threshing, i. e. they cover the whole annual cycle. Separately presented is «kolodka», which means chopping firewood at the end of winter, the name of which also has the root «kolo». The center of the caroling traditions spread also falls on the territory of Ukraine.

The author concludes with the Slavic origin of caroling as a system of circuitous rites throughout the year, during which unmarried youth were involved in the performance of public works.

Therefore, Ukraine may be considered, if not the homeland of caroling, then part of the area of formation of this tradition.

Keywords: Koliada, annual agrarian cycle, phenological calendar, carols, shchedrivky (Christmas songs), devotional rites.

Received 25.01.2023


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