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UNITED24 ambassadors wish Ukrainians a happy holidays with Shchedryk

30.12.2023 · Ambassadors

Mark Hamill, Katheryn Winnick, Liev Schreiber, Misha Collins, Mark Strong, José Andrés, Elina Svitolina, Timothy Snyder and Michel Hazanavicius read the lyrics of the world-famous Christmas song in Ukrainian. In this way, the UNITED24 ambassadors congratulate Ukrainians and express their solidarity with all those who have been celebrating the holidays in the midst of a full-scale war, for the second year in a row.

UNITED24 ambassadors wish Ukrainians a happy holidays with Shchedryk

Ukrainian composer, Mykola Leontovych, wrote the first version of Shchedryk in 1901. Today, it is one of the most popular Christmas songs based on ancient Ukrainian folklore.

The Oleksandr Koshyts student choir of Kyiv’s St. Volodymyr University performed the carol for the first time in 1916. This brought Leontovych success among the wider public, elevating Ukrainian culture to the world level. After an extensive tour of European cities, in 1922 the choir performed Shchedryk at Carnegie Hall in New York, and the first recording of the carol was made at that time. In the 1930s, the American composer of Ukrainian descent Peter J. Wilhousky produced an English version of Shchedryk, Carol of the Bells, which would become an international Christmas anthem.

“Shchedryk, which was americanized into Carol of the Bells, is a Ukrainian song about the turning of the seasons from winter to spring, the new year as traditionally understood. It is a song of hope and reassurance, as well as great beauty,” —

Timothy Snyder.

Mykola Leontovych's life was tragically cut short at the age of 43. An agent of the russian government shot and killed Mykola Leontovych at his parents' home in Vinnytsia Oblast. Therefore, the famous Shchedryk is also a world reminder of the destruction of Ukrainian culture by russians.

There are hundreds of versions of Shchedryk around the world. Particularly in the US, its English version, Carol of the Bells, is an integral part of the Christmas holidays. It is featured in cult comedies like Home Alone and Santa Claus, as well as movies such as Harry Potter, Die Hard 2, and The Addams Family.