Historie – Otázky – Problémy

Slovak carols and their Central-European context


Abstract: The text analyzes both the music and the main topics of carols. It focuses on different origins of Christmas songs (folk carols, carols written by composers), preserved in the oral tradition. Given the complexity of the tunes, it is the lyrics, i.e. the topics, which the author uses to classify the carols analyzed (ca. 1500 carols) into different types. Three basic groupings of carols have emerged based on the texts: worldly carols and the so-called wishes; carols with religious themes and apocrypha texts; pastoral carols (mostly from the Baroque period which in Slovakia continues into classicism).
The analysis has shown that there is a clear demarcation line between Western and Eastern Europe running through the territories of Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. It could be identified on the basis of pastoral themes as an important part of Christmas celebrations. This demarcation line is closely linked to the theological perception of prevailing topics of Christmas festivities in the Western and in the Eastern (nowadays Greek-Catholic and Orthodox) Christian Churches. While in Slovakia this border is relatively clear-cut and coincides with the Ruthenians ethnic, in Hungary it is less well defined and corresponds less closely to ethnic borders.

Key words: carol, West-European tradition, East-European tradition, typology of carols

Doc. PhDr. Eva Krekovičová, DrSc., vědecká pracovnice Ústavu etnológie Slovenskej akadémie vied v Bratislavě. Zabývá se zejména teorií a metodologií etnologie, etnomuzikologií, životem Slováků v zahraničí a otázkami identity (eva.krekovicova@savba.sk)