So, I have a tradition here in this blog, once a year in the winter to record and post a folk song my grandma used to sing. This one is number three, and might be the last one. While I do know a few more dozen of Ukrainian carols and other winter songs, these three are the only ones that were quite different from the other ones. Well, come next winter we’ll see.
Here is the song itself:
I wrote about this particular type of winter songs (non-carol traditional songs) last year, so you might want to read about them here: https://msvarnyk.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/ukrainian-non-carol-winter-song/
So these were the songs that would be sung on the eve before Epiphany for all children and young people, pretty much whoever is not married yet, and for most of them the motive would have something to do with a problem or a situation that is not resolved by the efforts of your mother and father, and the siblings, until your beloved arrives, and then everything will work out. As I mentioned last year, mine was about me sitting in the apple tree and refusing to give an apple to anyone (since apparently I only have one, duh, it’s January), util my beloved comes and I give it to him. Ironically, of all my girl-cousins I’m the only one still “sitting in the tree”, so maybe I can blame the song for that, maybe if I got a better song (there were options of washing handkerchiefs on ice or watching the herd of oxen, instead of sitting in the tree, doing nothing, and being stingy), life would be different? Joking, of course.
This particular song would be sung to a boy, in our extended family it was usually my brother – he was the yongest, perhaps that is why he would get this one (though there might be other reasons also). It follows the same logic of listing the family members, except the boys family is unusual, and his love is unusual also, it is a song about a knight, a warrior . Here it what the song says:
The boy went into the mountains to fight.
(Chorus: )He is young himself, and his horse is black.
He was attacked by three robbers (or bandits).
They ask him: who is your father?
My father is the bright Moon.
They ask him: who is your mother?
My mother is the star in the sky.
They ask him: who is your beloved?
My beloved is the sabre on my side.
The song seems somewhat unfinished, and I remember asking: so what happened next? I got an answer that was overly pacifist and not particularly logical: oh, they let him go. The logical answer, that would follow the epic canons would be: he pulled his sabre out and killed them all, so that they could not trouble anyone any more. I’m not sure whether that particular pacifying answer was tailored to me, since I had periods in my childhood when I would not leave home without carrying all of the toy weapons I had, when I was five and a half in the kindergarten, apparently I tried to strangle a little rascal who stole my markers that were brought the other night by Saint Nicholas, he was lucky that the teacher heard his squeaking somewhere in the corner where I was finishing him off, and I did not want to draw anything besides tanks on the ballet fields. So perhaps that answer was meant to curb my already overly-worrier-like nature.
Or maybe it was the self-preservation on the level of the whole family, and the whole nation also – after two wars, a house burned for political reasons, moving into Soviet territory, the exiles of family members, later participation in underground publishing of censored literature, and the typewriter that had to buried in the ground, being expelled from universities also for political reasons, and being regularly called in for KGB interrogations, that’s just a fraction of what my grandparents and parents had to live through, it would probably make you want to lay low and avoid confrontation. As a nation, we are just now learning, that sometimes you have to stand up and fight, because evil has to be fought and the evil ones have to be killed. We have avoided it for very long, we have repressed it, and indulged in delusions about “brotherly love”, which still surface from time to time. But we are becoming stronger, hopefully we will also remain human.
What remains is to wish all the warriors on all fronts, that their weapons are reliable, and that they are blessed and protected by the the sun, the mood, and the stars.