Russia Culture Traditions Carol Singing

Carol Singing

The first in the annual cycle of traditional festivals was yuletide (svyatki). In the Ukraine and White Russia, the word for yuletide is kolyadki, which is also the term used to describe the custom of house-to-house carol singing.

In Russia, yuletide lasted from Christmas Eve (24 December) to Twelfth Night or Epiphany (6 January). Throughout this period, young people gathered in merry groups and walked around the village, singing carols. The occupants of the peasant huts under whose windows they sang would then invite them inside for hospitality.

By the nineteenth century, carol singing had become a fun game performed in costumes. This tradition had a ritualistic basis, as yuletide came to replace what was once a pagan agricultural festival. Many of the carols were songs of praise and traditional wishes of wealth and prosperity to the peasant farmers.

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