Koledo is a being that can be seen in two ways – as a winter spirit and as a god. Festivals dedicated to Koledo took place in the winter, and the most important one was Koljada that coincided with the date of the winter solstice. Customs related to this holiday survived into Christianity, and some authors consider that Christianity took this holiday over and transformed it into Christmas. In Bulgaria Christmas is still called Koleda, and the greeting used on this day is “merry Koleda”.
Koledo is Ovsenj’s twin brother. Their mother is Zlatogorka Maja and their father is Dazbog. Ovsenj was born before Koledo and harnessed the horses to the heavenly chariot to make way for his brother. Koledo symbolizes the descent of god Krishna or Krisnji to earth. Ovsenj appears in the summer and Koledo in the winter. On the day of the winter solstice Ovsenj says farewell to the old year and Koledo welcomes the new year, or the new Sun.
Koledo gave people the knowledge of the universe and the celestial bodies. He gave them a book about the stars that the Slavs called Koledo’s Star Book. Here we can see another similarity between Koledo and Krishna. Krishna brings people knowledge in form of books – Vedas, and Koledo does the similar thing. If we consult the Vedas we can draw a conclusion that Koledo is an embodiment of Krishna or Krisnji, the term used by the Slavs to denote this god. Koledo made a calendar for the humans, a calendar that the Slavs called “Koledo’s gift”, and he also revealed to them the knowledge of “the Great Circle” (probably the Milky Way). According to legend, Koledo’s last descent on earth was around 6530 BC. Since then the knowledge was passed on from one generation to the next. The Greeks used to say that they got their sacred knowledge of the stars from the Hyperboreans from the north. Hyperboreans are the people from Greek myths who lived in the far north. They never waged wars and they lived in luxury. They worshipped the Sun and the solar gods. It was said that the Sun never set in their country. From the facts that they worshipped the Sun and lived in the north we may conclude that these people were actually the Slavs. The Book of Veles tells about the time when the Slavs led easy lives and knew of no wars. We can therefore propose a theory that the Greeks acquired the knowledge on astronomy and astrology from the Slavs. The Slavs in their turn gained this knowledge from Koledo.
Koledo’s name is mentioned in many toasts. There are the so-called koledar songs or koledi. These lyric ritual songs are mostly performed during Christmas holidays and are even today present in many areas. It was thought that, while bidding the old Sun farewell, Ovsenj released the dead, so men dressed in various clothes and went through the villages making noise. Koledars were exclusively men. They learned koledar songs from the village master. Koledars went through the village and sang for one entire night, up until the afternoon of the next day. There were always twelve of them, but they split up into two groups of six. Each group had a leader who carried a lantern decorated with rosemary. There were also three singers and a treasurer. They would hire a bag carrier whose only role was to carry the gifts given to them by the heads of the households they went to. The gifts mainly consisted of food and drink.
Here is an example of a koledar song:
Our host, koledo!
Has an infant, koledo!
Young infant, koledo!
Male head, koledo!
On his head, koledo!
Mink hat, koledo!
Koledars went through the streets and knocked at the doors of the houses that had a candle burning in the window. They sung songs dedicated to every member of the household. They sang to a groom, a household head, a bride, babies, children. All koledar songs had their purpose. Koledo was mentioned in them as a protector and his name was chanted as a plea for happiness, strength and love. Through that he became a protector of the family and its individual members. He was later in some songs substituted by the Christian God, logically, we may say, since Koledo was a Vedic god, just one of the manifestations of one and the same god.
by Nikola Milosevic
translation by Snježana Todorović