Birth of God
In pre-Christian times, at the time of the winter solstice, when daylight hours began to increase gradually after the longest night, the holiday of the “birth of the new Sun” was celebrated. After the adoption of Christianity, at this time began to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – the Sun of Truth. However, for centuries in Ukraine, there was a period of “dual faith” – when people went to church and at the same time performed ancient pagan rites. The turning point in favor of Christianity occurred in the XVI century, with the foundation of the Zaporizhia Sich.
Somewhere in the XVII century, carols of Christian content – the so-called Christmas canticles, which have a book origin, spread in Ukraine. They were composed by teachers of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and distributed by church singers and deacons. In content, they are very different from the pre-Christian ones because they sing about the birth of Christ. They differ from traditional carols in their musical structure. Many were folklorized, took root in everyday life, and became part of our traditional culture.
Icon of the Nativity of Christ (from the festive row of the iconostasis), 18-19th century. Wood, oil, gilding. 54.1x41.9 cm
Christmas carol "After Christmas, after dinner", recorded by N. Kerimova in the village of Lypniazhka of Dobrovelichkiv district, Kirovohrad region, in the 1990s from the group: Denysenko Mariya Petrivna, Kyrychenko Yefrosyniya Havrylivna (1931 d.o.b), Korzynetsʹ Dariya Semenivna, Kovpan Mariya Petrivna, Kosyuh Mariya Ivanivna (1931 d.o.b), Kulish Pelaheya Oleksiyivna, Melʹnyk Lyubov Semenivna (1930 d.o.b), Myroshnychenko Natalka Tymofiyivna, Musiyenko Nadiya Andriyivna, Ohreba Vira Ivanivna (1942d.o.b), Ruban Polina Mykolayivna (1935 d.o.b).
Ukrainian Christmas is impossible to imagine without a vertep (portable puppet theater). Its appearance in Ukraine dates back to the beginning of the XVII century when the efforts of Hetman Petro Sahaidachny founded a fraternal school in Kyiv (which, by the way, later developed into the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy).
Its professors and students began to compose Christian carols and show the Christmas play "Vertep" – a puppet theater, the action of which took place in a small two-story house, with clearly separated heaven and earth. Traditional vertep has two parts: mysterious and secular, with national flavor. Over time, the vertep turned from a puppet theater into a live theatrical performance.
Шопка Музею Івана Гончара. Shopka (nativity scene) of the Ivan Honchar Museum. Painting by Polina Kanikovsʹka. Pronunciation — Viktor Kanikovʹskyy, Volodymyr Dovhan, Borys Denysevych.
Shopka is a kind of vertep, mostly a model of the Bethlehem stable, on the night of Christmas. The obligatory elements are the figures of Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, and St. Joseph; depending on the variations, there may also be shepherds, cattle, three kings, or other characters.
Folk iconography also formed the Ukrainian image of Christmas. Ancient icons combined Several plots: The Holy Family in the stable near the manger with an ox and a donkey, the worship of the Magi or the Kings with gifts, the Shepherds, and above all – the Star of Bethlehem. Later, icons depicting separate subjects, such as the worship of the Magi, began to appear.
Icon of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, 19th – 20th centuries, Kharkiv. Wood, oil, 30.5 x 22 cm
Icon of the Adoration of the Shepherds (from the festive row of the iconostasis), second half of the 17th century. Lviv region, Sokal district, the village of Perevʺyatychi. Wood, tempera. 33.2 x 30.5 cm. Collection of the Ivan Honchar Museum.