Koza

Koza (Коза; Goat). A traditional mimetic folk play that was acted out during the Christmas cycle by young men, who visited all the houses in a village. The Goat—a youth wearing an inverted sheepskin coat and a mask resembling a goat's head—entered a house, bowed to the head of the household, and performed a ritual dance to bring about an abundant harvest. The other youths sang an accompanying ditty: ‘De Koza khodyt’, tam zhyto rodyt’, de Koza tup-tup, tam zhyta sim kup’ (Where the Goat goes, there wheat grows; where the Goat stamps its feet, there are seven sheaves of wheat). A dramatization of a goat being pursued by hunters and wolves, killed, and gutted followed. At the singers' call ‘Bud’, Kozo, zhyva!’ (Come alive, Goat!) the Goat rose from the dead and returned to its ‘field,’ which then came to life (as acted out by the chorus). The game ended with the Goat delivering a wish: ‘Shchob ts’omu hospodariu i korovky buly nevrochlyviï i molochlyviï, i oves—samosii, i pshenytsia—sochevytsia’ (May this farmer's cattle be unbedeviled and full of milk, and may his oats sow themselves and his wheat be of the best sort). In the Hutsul region the Goat was ‘led around’ by children, who ‘sowed’ grain kernels throughout the house; the Goat's ears were made of grain spikes. Occasionally, the Goat was accompanied by others disguised as the Old Man, the Gypsy, Malanka (the New Year's Eve maiden), the Bear, and other characters. The original purpose of Koza was the same as that of carols: to invoke a successful year for the peasant household. With time, belief in its magical function disappeared, and the game became simply a form of entertainment in the repertoires of Christmas parties.

Mykola Mushynka

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]




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