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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
by K. Trutovsky
Also calledKolyada, Коледа, Kоляда, Коледе, Kalėda, Colindă
Observed byEastern European, Balts and Slavic people
Significancecelebration of New Year re-birth
BeginsJanuary 6
EndsJanuary 7
DateDecember 25, January 7, January 6, December 24
First timeunknown
Related toChristmas traditions, Eastern Orthodox liturgical days
Verteps parade. Lviv, Ukraine
Russian Christmas postcard. 1910s

Koliada or koleda (Cyrillic: коляда, коледа, колада, коледе) is the traditional Slavic name for the period from Christmas to Epiphany or, more generally, for Slavic Christmas-related rituals, some dating to pre-Christian times.[1] It represents a festival or holiday, celebrated at the end of December to honor the sun during the Northern-hemisphere winter solstice. It also involves groups of singers who visit houses to sing carols.[2][3]


The word is still used in modern Ukrainian ("Коляда", Koliadá), Belarusian (Каляда, Kalada, Kaliada), Polish (Szczodre Gody kolęda [kɔˈlɛnda]), Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian (Коледа, Коледе, koleda, kolenda), Lithuanian (Kalėdos, Kalėda), Czech, Slovak, Slovene (koleda) and Romanian (Colindă).[4]

The word used in Old Church Slavonic language (Колѧда - Kolęnda) sounds closest to the current Polish language pronunciation, as Polish is one of two Slavic languages which retains the nasal vowels of the Proto-Slavic language (the other is closely related Kashubian). One theory states that Koliada is the name of a cycle of winter rituals stemming from the ancient calendae[5] as for example the Kalenda Proclamation.

In modern Belarusian, Ukrainian (koliada), Czech, Slovak, Croatian (koleda, kolenda), Kashubian (kòlãda [kwɛlãda]) and Polish (kolęda [kɔˈlɛ̃da], Old Polish kolenda[6]) the meaning has shifted from Christmas itself to denoting the tradition of strolling, singing, and having fun on Christmas Eve, same in the Balkan Slavs. It specifically applies to children and teens who walk house to house greeting people, singing and sifting grain that denotes the best wishes and receiving candy and small money in return. The action is called kolyadovanye (Russian: Колядования) in Russian, kolyaduvannya (Ukrainian колядування) in Ukrainian and is now applied to similar Old East Slavic celebrations of other old significant holidays, such as Generous Eve (Russian: Маланья, Щедрый вечер, Belarusian: Шчодры вечар, Ukrainian: Щедрий вечiр) the evening before New Year's Day, as well as the celebration of the arrival of spring. Similarly in Bulgaria and North Macedonia, in the tradition of koleduvane (коледуване) or koledarenje (коледарење) around Christmas, groups of children visiting houses, singing carols and receiving a gift at parting. The kids are called 'koledari' or rarely 'kolezhdani' who sing kolyadki (songs).

Koleda is also celebrated across northern Greece by the Slavic speakers of Greek Macedonia, in areas from Florina to Thessaloniki, where it is called Koleda (Κόλιντα, Κόλιαντα) or Koleda Babo (Κόλιντα Μπάμπω) which means "Koleda Grandmother" in Slavic. It is celebrated before Christmas by gathering in the village square and lighting a bonfire, followed by local Macedonian music and dancing.

Croatian composer Jakov Gotovac wrote in 1925 the composition "Koleda", which he called a "folk rite in five parts", for male choir and small orchestra (3 clarinets, 2 bassoons, timpani and drum). Also, Dubrovnik kolenda is one of the oldest recorded traditions of this kind in Croatia (its first mentioned in 13th century).[7] There is also a dance from Dubrovnik called "The Dubrovnik Koleda."

It is celebrated in the Büyükmandıra village of Babaeski district, Kırklareli Province in Turkey as a halloween-like festival and dates a thousand years back.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Толковый словарь Даля онлайн".
  2. ^ Brlic-Mazuranic, Ivana. Croatian Tales of Long Ago. Translated by Fanny S. Copeland. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co.. 1922. p. 258.
  3. ^ Tryfanenkava, Maryna A. 2001. "The Current Status of Belarusian Calendar-Ritual Tradition". In: FOLKLORICA - Journal of the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Folklore Association, 6 (2): 43. https://doi.org/10.17161/folklorica.v6i2.3709.
  4. ^ "Koleda". Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika [Standard Slovene Dictionary]. Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts. 2000.
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  6. ^ Biblioteka warszawska. 1858 s. 318, Materyały antropologiczno-archeologiczne i etnograficzne 1826 s. 186
  7. ^ Radio Dubrovnik (2021-02-09). "Dubrovačka kolenda proglašena zaštićenim nematerijalnim kulturnim dobrom" (in Croatian). Croatian Radio.
  8. ^ "Kırklareli celebrates horror festival Koleda - Türkiye News". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2023-01-09.