• Carols in the Raw

As a counterpoint to the increasingly saccharine carols that flood Christmas here in the UK, here are two unvarnished examples from the Polish highlands.  Each brings an edgy reality to Christmas traditions.

The first is from Pieniny, on the Dunajec river north of Zakopane.  It’s one of Poland’s favourite carols, ‘Oj, maluski, maluski’ (Oh little one, little one), sung here by a young child, with male-voice refrain.  There’s a charming little video loop accompanying this ungilded rendition.


The second is a rough-edited sequence of vocal and instrumental music sung and played by the ‘Giewonty’ ensemble.  (Giewont is the peak overshadowing Zakopane.  Its huge metal cross was nearly my undoing when in 1997 I scrambled to the summit in a ferocious storm and was a mere two metres from the cross when it was struck by lightning …)

This lively sequence was taken from an evening’s carousel in the Willa Orla (Eagle Villa) in Zakopane on 26 December 2007.  It’s vigorous, youthful and passionate.  OK, it’s been packaged a bit, but once inside you get a good feel for the atmosphere of góral celebrations of Christmas.  Wesołych Świąt!


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