Ukraine at the Glance:

Culture of Ukraine

National 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.





                   
                   


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