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    Day 5: Going Christmas Carolling

    Christmas 2022 is coming. Various songs and carols are inextricably associated with Christmas. Many people wonder when they can sing them and whether they can expect carollers already.

    Singing carols. Where did this tradition come from?

    For the most part, carols can usually only be heard on Christmas Eve. According to tradition, the family sits down to a meal and sings carols together to celebrate Christmas. Surrounded by Christmas decorations, Christmas tree presents and people close to us, singing carols creates a special atmosphere.

    The custom of carol singing differs in many parts of the world. In Poland, families sing the most beautiful traditional carols together, while in other countries, such as England, there is no such custom. There, the singing moves to the streets. Groups of carol singers of all ages go around throughout December and collect money for charity.

    The custom of carol singing

    At the very beginning, a carol was a song sung on New Year’s Day. It was a song of praise in honour of the host, to which wishes for happiness and prosperity were sent. The carols known today as songs sung to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ came about later, with the development of Christian culture.

    In the old days, the term “carol” was also used to describe the Slavic ritual on the occasion of the Midsummer Festival and later Christmas. This was when the first carol singers appeared, who went around the houses with the good news.

    Genesis of carolling

    Carolling itself originates from a folk ritual practised primarily in agricultural and pastoral cultures by Slavs and Romanians. It consisted of groups of carol singers visiting individual farms to wish them a Happy New Year, in return for which they would receive gifts of food or small monetary donations from their hosts. 

    The term ‘kolęda’ (carol-ed.) is used to refer to both the ritual itself (going round to the houses singing carols) and the gifts given to the carol singers, as well as to the special songs they sang. The old Slavs also used this name for the Midsummer Festival. Carolling was also known as the ritual of going round houses by groups of costume-clothed people in the period of Zapusty (referred to as Carnival – ed.) and Easter.

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