Polish Christmas Carols Concert

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The Polish Heritage Society will present a concert of the most popular religious Polish Christmas carols on Wednesday morning, December 6, in the Sacred Heart Church, 446 Mountain Road. Four area musicians will perform an hour-long program beginning at 10:15 a.m. The musicians are Eddie Forman (accordion), June Ingram (violin), Ed Zieminski (clarinet, saxophone), and Jim Turek (trumpet). Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy this beautiful Polish tradition. There is no admission.

The following description of koledy is adapted from “Christmas Carols from Treasured Polish Songs with English Translations” by the Minneapolis Polanie Club 1953.

“In old Poland, the Christmas holidays were known as the days of love, harmony, forgiveness, and peace. These feelings were expressed by a spirit of good cheer, and a kind word. Mostly, however, they were expressed by song, the Koledy or Christmas carols. The Polish words Wesolych Swiat, meaning merry holidays, imply that there is more than one day of joy and festivity. Beginning with Christmas Eve, the holidays usually end on January sixth, the Feast of the Epiphany, or the day of the Three Wise Men, and in rural districts of Poland, they last even longer, until Candlemas Day, which falls on February second.

The Polish carol has an essentially folk song character, which makes it specifically national. The melodies are characteristically Polish – gay, sad, tender, even humorous – typical of the Polish peasant or mountaineer. Polish Christmas carols may be divided into three kinds: religious, legendary, and imaginative. The religious, among the most beautiful and profound in feeling of all Polish hymns, owe their origin to monks in cloisters. The legendary, based on the books of the Apocrypha, contain many legends and details which strict historical truth cannot be assumed. Hence the Church did not accept them, but they appealed to the people who loved to sing of the many wonders, the adoring shepherds and the speaking animals. The third, or imaginative, owe their origin to people of humble birth, who in relating the story of the Nativity used familiar surroundings taken from their own homes. Thus, Bethlehem became a Polish village and Jesus was born in Poland. These carols often contain merry dance rhythms like the Krakowiak and the Mazurka and are called “Shepherd’s Carols.”

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