Carols are a constant companion of the Christmas holidays. Believers are preparing in advance to celebrate the Birth of Christ with a plentiful feast and merry Christmas carols, so they want to know when and how carols are celebrated in America. In 2021, as in the last 100 + years, Christmas is celebrated on January 6 in a new style. The Catholic Church celebrates this holiday on December 25. This is a big twelve-day holiday, which is preceded by a forty-day Christmas fast.
How the tradition of caroling appeared
Each region of vast America has its own traditions and rituals of caroling. In addition to America, carols are performed in Belarus, America, Serbia, and other Slavic countries, as this is an ancient Slavic tradition associated with the pagan deity carols.
Carols called the God of the winter, or young, emerging sun. According to Slavic beliefs, the young star was born on the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year). The name of this deity comes from the word Kolo, which means circle. The priest of the God Kolyada was called a sorcerer.
In the days of pagan beliefs, people glorified the heavenly body for two weeks while it gained strength. What else was there to do on long winter evenings, if not to sing songs, but go to visit. This custom has been preserved in some American regions, where people caroled not only on Christmas eve, but also throughout all the Yuletide days, until Epiphany itself.
By the way, there is a point of view that the two-week Yuletide also came from pre-Christian times. The pagan Slavs dedicated the celebration of these days to the God Svyatovit, as Perun was called.
Clergy after the introduction of Christianity in America for a long time tried to stop caroling. They did not like the folk custom of dressing up as devils and goblins, just as they did not like the fortune-telling that young people arranged on festive evenings. Divination was considered a great sin. Mummery was associated with the invocation of evil spirits. However, there was a compromise. The peasants began to praise not the sun God Kolyada, but the Christ who was born. On the last day of Christmas, “sinners” came to Church to repent of their sins. At the same time, the tradition of washing away sins in a hole cut in the shape of a cross was born.
It has long been known that churchmen went to a small trick, combining an ancient pagan holiday with the birth of Christ. In fact, Christ was born in the fall.
Europeans also have their own sun festival, which falls at the end of December, which was replaced by Christmas. In Ancient Rome, this holiday was called Saturnalia.
How carols were played in America
Young people in the village gathered in groups and dressed up as animals, goblins, and other evil spirits. And then we went singing in the courtyards. To create funny and at the same time scary images, they turned their outer clothing inside out, pulled on skins, made and put on masks, and attached horns. In the songs of the glorified Christ (in pre-Christian times – the Christmas Carol). Those who played musical instruments (accordion, balalaika) were in the center of the company. Songwriters, harmonicists, and balalaika artists have always been appreciated in American villages. Bells and tambourines were also used for noisy fun. Here is one of the options for Christian caroling. The center of the group was a trio of young guys:
- Sozdar – a young man with a good voice. He carried a large star of Bethlehem and sang carols.
- The bell ringer is one of the active members of the group. He carried a bell and rang it.
- Mahonesa – this guy got it very hard. He was carrying a bag in which the owners put treats. Therefore, the strongest and strongest young man was chosen for the role of a fur carrier.
The rest of the band members sang along to zvezdar. When the owners, attracted by the noise of carolers, went out of the gate, they were sung in chorus or read praises and good wishes. As Goodies, the owners put sweets, small money, and food for breaking the fast in the bag. It was a homemade sausage, a piece of bacon, eggs and other Goodies.
In those houses where a close relative died during the year, carolers did not enter. It was customary to wear mourning throughout the year. And during the year, holidays in such houses were not celebrated.
In some regions, a bonfire symbolizing the star of Bethlehem was lit on Christmas eve. And earlier, before Christianity, it was customary to light a deck – a dry stump. This bonfire represented the nascent sun.
In Soviet times, the tradition of caroling was almost destroyed. Objective reasons contributed to this. Christian holidays and mass celebrations were banned. They were celebrated in a narrow circle. But now nothing prevents you from fully reviving the Yuletide holidays with fun carols and fortune-telling.