The period from Christmas and well into the New Year, is marked in Ukraine, a predominantly Christian Orthodox land for the past millennium, by a string of holidays which are often collectively referred to as Svyatky — Holiday Season. During this time, the Ukrainian countryside reverberates with the sounds of kolyadky and schedrivky – the winter holiday songs.
With the introduction of Christianity to Ukraine, the celebration of the New Year was moved from April to January and the holiday became associated with the Feast of Epiphany – also known in Ukrainian as Shchedry vechir. Thus the new year’s carols sung for this celebration are known as “shchedrivky”. Shchedrivky are often structurally similar to koliadky and are rich with wishes of happiness, good health and prosperity for the host or master of the house of attendance. By contrast, a “kolyada,” or “kolyadka” is a Christmas carol, religious in content, primarily sung on Christmas Eve or Day to commemorate the birth of the Lord.