Koliadky — Christmas carols sung to Rusyn folk tunes. The texts glorify the birth of Jesus and welcome in the New Year. They were traditionally sung in Rusyn villages as part of an annual cycle of Christmas rituals and performed by carolers, or Bethlehem singers (vifleemchyky/iaslychkary), who went from house to house dressed in costumes related to the Christmas story and performed brief skits (Vifleems’ki hry) related to the birth of the Christ child.
Texts of koliadky were first published in collections of Rusyn religious and spiritual songs that began to appear at the end of the nineteenth century. Among the first collections devoted specifically to the genre was Koliady, abo pisni na rozhdestvo Khrystove (1936, repr. 1997), published for the *Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo; the first Rusyn book of koliady with texts and music was compiled by Filaret *Kolessa (1938).
For most of the period of Communist rule (1945-1989) koliadky were banned from public performance in Rusyn-inhabited lands, although the Greek Catholic priest in Czechoslovakia, Stepan *Pap, did manage to publish a collection of religious songs (Grekokatolicki duchovni pisni, 1969) that included several koliadky. In the post-Communist era koliadky are once again performed in public; several collections have been published and cassette recordings have been made available in both *Subcarpathian Rus’ and the *Presov Region.
Bibliography: Filaret Kolessa, “Starynni melodii ukrains’kykh obriadovykh pisen’ (vesil’nykh i koliadok) na Zakarpatti,” Naukovyi zbornyk Tovarystva ‘Prosvita’ (Uzhhorod, 1934), pp. 121-152; Petr Lyntur, Uhro-russkiia koliady (Uzhhorod, 1942); Iurii Turianytsia, “Novorichno-rizdviani obriady i pisni Zakarpattia,” in Koliadky Zakarpattia (Uzhhorod, 1993), pp. 5-23.
Paul Robert Magocsi
Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.