Ukrainian customs and traditions / Украинские обычаи и традиции

The best way to know a nation, its character and history is to get acquainted with its customs and traditions. Ukrainian traditions are very old. Some of them arose in pre — historic times and evolved through the centuries of Ukrainian history. With the spread of modern civilization transformed Ukrainian customs and traditions. Nowadays persistent efforts are made to revive folk customs. In the last few decades people learned more about customs and traditions of their country. They sing special carols (shchedrivky), as a New Year’s tradition. People sing vesnianky, when spring comes. In villages and towns the Kupalo festival is widely celebrated. Many of these customs and traditions have their deep meaning. They are aimed at ensuring a good harvest and a life of plenty.

A great deal of Ukrainian customs is tied to ancient beliefs, symbols and images. The New Year, particularly, the New Year’s Eve, was connected with a rich repertoire of folk customs. Their primary purpose was to secure the family’s health and happiness. The key rituals were eating kutia, children’s caroling, walking Malanka around the village, fortune telling and forecasting the weather for the next year, and the symbolic sowing of wheat.

Christmas and most interesting part Christmas Eve (Sviat-Vechir) is also connected with many magical acts, which should bring wealth to the family. Among them are caroling, vertep and did or didukh. Did or didukh is a sheaf of wheat and symbolizes dead family members who participate in the eve’s celebration. The religious festival lasts for three days. The Christmas tree, which was adopted from Western Europe, is today an element of the New Year celebration in Ukraine. The Christmas theme has an important place, more important than Easter, in Ukrainian painting, particularly church painting, and in poetry. The «holy supper» on Christmas Eve is a meal of 12 symbolic meat and milk free dishes. The order of the dishes and even the dishes themselves are not uniform everywhere, for every region has its own tradition. In the Hutsul region, for example, the dishes were served in the following order: beans, fish, boiled potato dumplings (pyrohy or varenyky), cabbage rolls (holubtsi), kutia, potatoes mashed with garlic, stewed fruit and so on.

Epiphany (Bogoiavlennia) is a religious holiday on January 6 (the Old Style), or January 19 (the New Style). It is often called Vodokhryshchi. The Eve of Epiphany is called "the second Holy Eve" or "Hungry Kutia". In Podillia it is also called Shchedryi Vechir (Generous Eve). It is a more simple meal than on Christmas Eve, but with kutia still as the main traditional dish. The principal ceremony of Epiphany is blessing the water. After the blessing, everyone present drinks the water and also takes some home to be kept there for a whole year.

One more important Ukrainian religious holiday is Easter. In Ukrainian, Easter is called «Velykden» (the Great Day). The last Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday) is called Willow Sunday (Verbna nedilia). On this day willow branches are blessed in the church. The week before Easter, the Great Week (Holy Week), is called the White or Pure Week. In the evening of "Pure" Thursday, the passion (strasti) service is performed. After it, people return home with lighted candles. This is really one of the most beautiful traditions in Ukraine.


persistent — настойчивый

repertoire — репертуар

to revive — возвращать к жизни

garlic — чеснок

stewed fruit — компот

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