Ringing, festive, loud, majestic – carols first come to mind when we talk about the image of Ukrainian Christmas. Caroling is an invariable custom of the Ukrainian winter holidays. Caroling is a unique activity during which carolers bestow happy fate and prosperity to those they carol. For the magic to happen, the gift of wishes must be worthily accepted and generously bestowed in return.
"Let us give thanks to God" is an old carol from the village of Chornyi Potik, Ivano-Frankivsk region.The peculiarity of this carol is a one-voiced melody accompanied by a flute. Carols in western Ukraine were often performed with instrumental accompaniment. Carols like this one are called "zhekanky" because in the refrain “Oi dai Bozhe” ("Oh, please God"), the initial syllables are shortened, of which only the last syllable "zhe" remains. However, the melodic basis of the carol is preserved: the missing syllables are filled by the instrumental playing of the refrain melody.
People in such songs were always exalted and sang only about their virtues. Sometimes they even exaggerated because they believed what was said or sung during the holidays would come true. That is why in a carol to a girl, she was often depicted as intelligent, hardworking, and beautiful, sometimes compared to a princess and a queen. A special place in the texts of carols was occupied by wishes for a girl to have a good couple and a happy marriage.
"Carolers under the window", Anastasiya Rak, Poltava region, Lokhvytskyy district, the village of Vasylky, 1990. Glass, tempera, ink, bronze paint, 30x33.7 cm
"Assumption Cathedral", Anastasiya Rak, Poltava region, Lokhvytskyy district, the village of Vasylky, 1998. Glass, tempera, ink, bronze paint, foil, varnish, 43.4x53.3 cm