Russian Word of the Day-Колядки-Carols

Our theme this week is going to be (Christmas) carol related.  Why did I put “Christmas” in parentheses you might be wondering? Well, let me explain.


So the word Колядка actually comes from the word Коляда, which was the ancient pagan holiday celebrated around the time of Winter Solstice.  Some say it was based on the Slavic god Kolyada who was the embodiment of the New Year cycle.

The holiday consisted of sitting around the table, eating certain foods, fortune telling and lastly and most exciting the kids went out and went caroling, in Russian колядовать, to the homes of more wealthy people and sang them songs, wishing them good fortune and would get some sort of sweet or money in return. These pagan traditions got merged with Christian traditions when Christianity came along.

This tradition was and is most prominent in Ukraine, especially Western Ukraine.  Which is why, to this day, most Russian Christmas carols are either Russian versions of Ukrainian carols or Ukrainian carols.  I talked about this years ago in this post.

I will try to share a Christmas carol each day this week for you and give you the lyrics in Russian/Ukrainian and pick out a few key terms for you.

Another word for these carols is Щедривки, shchedriki, which comes from the word for generosity. In fact, the only Ukrainian carol that we westerners know is “Carol of the Bells”, which in Ukrainian is called just Щедрик, щедрівочка.  You can actually find many different carols by the same name.  Here’s the most famous one and its lyrics and the English translation of it as found on Wikipedia.

Щедрик, щедрик, щедрівочка,                   

Прилетіла ластівочка,                                 

Стала собі щебетати,

Господаря викликати:

Вийди, вийди, господарю,

Подивися на кошару,

Там овечки покотились,

А ягнички народились.

В тебе товар весь хороший,

Будеш мати мірку грошей.

Хоч не гроші, то полова,

В тебе жінка чорноброва.

Щедрик, щедрик, щедрівочка,

Прилетіла ластівочка.

Shchedryk, shchedryk, a shchedrivka [New Year’s carol];
A little swallow flew [into the household]
and started to twitter,
to summon the master:
“Come out, come out, O master [of the household],
look at the sheep pen,
there the ewes are nestling
and the lambkin have been born
Your goods [livestock] are great,
you will have a lot of money, [by selling them]
if not money, then chaff: [from all the grain you will harvest]
you have a dark-eyebrowed [beautiful] wife.”
Shchedryk, shchedryk, a shchedrivka,
A little swallow flew.

And here’s another version of this Shchedrik to a different tune:

I made a Google site with downloadable mp3s of all my favorite Russian Christmas Carols here.  This song is labeled 10_Wedrik_wedrik_wedrivochka.mp3

2 thoughts on “Russian Word of the Day-Колядки-Carols

  1. Я всегда жду с удовольствием нового выпуска в серии “Русское слово дня”, и вот это музыкальный пост оказался приятным сюрпризом. Спасибо большое!

  2. I just discovered your site through a friend’s recommendation – awesome. Keep playin’ that rock and roll!!!

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