traditions and rituals
Ukrainian national traditions, customs, and oral folk literature
reflect Old Ukrainian pre-Christian, and Christian cultures.
The rituals derive from the folk calendar, religious celebrations
like Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, Ivana Kupala (St.John's
Eve), New Year, and the autumn folk festivals dedicated to
the end of the agricultural work.
Ukrainians have typical wedding habits, family traditions
connected with crafts and jobs (the first day of sowing, beginning
of the harvest), along with traditional symbols (straw didukh,
decorated pysanka Easter eggs), holy water, and traditional
dishes like kutia (boiled wheat with honey and poppy seed),
paskha Easter bread, varenyky (something like ravioli), and
pancakes. The rituals include folk dances, carols, fortune-telling,
and blessing with water.
Holidays were celebrated during periods of transition from
one type of agricultural activity to another. Easter, for
example, is a spring holiday. Spring is a time of ploughing
and sowing in the fields, a time of warmth and rebirth after
a cold, hungry winter. In pagan times Ukrainians believed
that the gods died and were reborn every year. An example
of a pagan ritual is the dyeing of eggs.
To the Christian Ascention Day (the 40th day after Easter)
Ukrainians added a pre-Christian tradition of going to the
field to inspect the progress of the wheat.
The Trinity is celebrated on the 50th day after Easter in
summer. Traditionally, people decorated their homes with green
tree branches and fragrant herbs. Another summer holiday full
of magic and ritual is known as Saint Kupala (July 7). During
the day everyone has to be at least immersed in water. This
was the last holiday before the harvest.
August 2nd is known as St. Illia Day which marked the beginning
of autumn. People say - "Until dinner it's summer, after
dinner it's autumn". On the 19th of August known as Saviour
Day vegetables, fruit, mushrooms and honey were blessed. Weddings
usually took place in the middle of October. A unique feature
of Ukrainian Christmas festivities is the Vertep or puppet
theatre. Young people would get together; dress as angels,
kings, Herod, animals. They walk from house to house singing
Koliadky, greeting everyone with the holiday.