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Korochun (Bulgarian: Kračon, Kračunek; Serbian: Kračun; Ruthenian: K(e)rečun/G(e)rečun, Kračun; Old Russian: Koročjun; Russian: Koročun/Karačun, Корочун/Кaрaчун; Romanian: Crăciun; Hungarian: Karácsony) is the word for Christmas or the winter solstice in many Eastern European languages. In Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian it can also refer to sudden or unexpected death.
As Latin gradually evolved into Romanian, the e in the first syllable becomes either a or ă (as in ericius/arici , fetus/făt , herba/iarbă , etc), and ti becomes ci if intervocalic (as in fetiolus/fecior , petiolus/picior , etc). Likewise, o becomes u when preceding a nasal consonant (as in frons/frunte , mons/munte , pons/punte , etc).
Since Romanians traditionally sacrifice pigs for Christmas, pork products being the traditional Christmas dish, the verb a crăciuni came to mean to kill or to slaughter , hence why in East Slavic languages Korochun acquired the secondary meaning of death.
Religious and Mythological Significance 
Korochun was a pagan Slavic holiday. It was considered the day when the Black God and other spirits associated with decay and darkness were most potent. Max Vasmer derived the word from the Common Slavonic for "to step forward". The first recorded usage of the term was in 1143, when the author of the Novgorod First Chronicle referred to the winter solstice as "Korochun".
It was celebrated by pagan Slavs on December 21 the longest night of the year and the night of the winter solstice. On this night, Hors, symbolising old sun, becomes smaller as the days become shorter in the Northern Hemisphere, and dies on December 22, the winter solstice. It is said to be defeated by the dark and evil powers of the Black God. On December 23 Hors is resurrected and becomes the new sun, Koleda.
Modern scholars tend to associate this holiday with the ancestor worship. On this day Western Slavs lit fires at cemeteries to keep their loved ones warm, and organized feasts to honour the dead and keep them fed. They also lit wooden logs at local crossroads. In some Slavic languages, the word came to denote unexpected death of a young person and the evil spirit that shortens life.
- Max Vasmer, Etymological Dictionary of the Russian Language, Корочун.
External Links 
- Archiv für Slavische Philologie, 1886, Vol XI, pp. 526-7.
See also