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Culture of Ukraine

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Culture of Ukraine

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List of Ukrainians

Ukrainian culture is the culture associated with the country of Ukraine and, in particular, with ethnic Ukrainians. It contains elements of other Eastern European cultures, as well as some Western European influences. Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Church and traditions from Slavic mythology.

Ukraine has a shared culture with neighboring nations, dating back to the 9th century and the Land of Rus. Mutual influence is particularly apparent among the cultures of Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus. In addition, the culture of Ukrainian Cossacks (dress, weapons, etc.) has significant traces of the cultures of Turkic peoples.

The 70 years of the Soviet era left their traces, often devastating, in the cultural history of the country and the people.


Social gatherings like Vechornytsi have a long history in Ukrainian culture, and so do traditional holidays like Ivan Kupala Day, Maslenitsa, Koledovanie, and Malanka, where people gather in large groups. "Razom nas bahato, nas ne podolaty" is a popular cultural and political statement of both traditional and modern Ukrainians. It translates as "Together we are many! We cannot be defeated!"


Main article: Religion in Ukraine

Religion is practiced throughout the country. Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Eastern Catholicism and Roman Catholic are the three most widely practiced religions. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church[1] is the largest in the country.[2] Faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the second largest, practice Byzantine rites, but are united with the Roman Catholic Church.


Main article: Ukrainian cuisine

Food is an important part to the Ukrainian culture. Special foods are used at Easter, as well as Christmas. During Christmas, for example, people prepare kutia, which is a mixture of cooked wheat groats, poppy seeds, honey, and special sweet breads.

An average Ukrainian diet consists of fish, cheese, and a variety of sausages. Head cheese is also quite popular in Ukraine, as well as Kolbasa (Ukrainian: Ковбаса́, Kovbasa), a type of sausage. Typically bread is a core part of every meal, and must be included for the meal to be "complete." During Christmas, for example, it is the tradition to have a twelve-course meal. Included at Easter are the famous pysanky, which are colored and patterned eggs. Making these eggs is a long process, and they used for display at the center of the table rather than consumed.

Ukrainians often toast to good health, linger over their meal, and engage in lively conversation with family and friends. Often they will drink tea (chai), wine, or coffee afterwards with a simple dessert, such as a fruit pastry.

Popular foods in Ukraine include salo, borscht (national soup),[2] sarmale, chicken kiev,[2] pierogi, pilaf, vareniki, pączki, and crêpe.


Weddings traditionally take place in churches, the bride in white and the groom in black. Wedding celebrations are known to continue for days and even weeks. They are accompanied by lively music and dancing, drinking and eating, and fellowship.

Some particular wedding customs include:

  • Before the wedding, the groom goes with his friends to the bride's house and bargains with "money' to get a bride from her family.
  • When leaving the church, the bride carries a basket of candies or sweets to throw to children and the crowd.
  • The groom carries her down the stairs.
  • At the reception, the bride dances with each of the unmarried women present, and places a special veil on each of them. This veil symbolises that they are still pure, but that the bride hopes they will get married soon. She also throws her veil and the girl who catches it first will likely be the next to marry.


Traditional art forms

Every aspect of ordinary life is transformed into an art form on special occasions in Ukraine. Pysanka, rushnyk, korovai, vyshyvanka, and ochipok are examples that illustrate extensive decorative finishes used throughout.


For men, traditional dress includes Kozhukh, Kontusz, Żupan and Sharovary. For women, traditional dress includes Vyshyvanka, Kozhushanka, Ochipok for married women, and Ukrainian wreath for unmarried girls.

Weaving and embroidery

Artisan textile arts play an important role in Ukrainian culture,[3] especially in Ukrainian wedding traditions. Ukrainian embroidery, weaving, and lace-making are used in traditional folk dress and in traditional celebrations. Ukrainian embroidery varies depending on the region of origin,[4] and the designs have a long history of motifs, compositions, choice of colors, and types of stitches.[5] Use of color is very important and has roots in Ukrainian folklore. Embroidery motifs found in different parts of Ukraine are preserved in the Rushnyk Museum in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi.

National dress is woven and highly decorated. Weaving with handmade looms is still practiced in the village of Krupove, situated in Rivne Oblast. The village is the birthplace of two famous personalities in the scene of national crafts fabrication. Nina Myhailivna[6] and Uliana Petrivna[7] with international recognition. In order to preserve this traditional knowledge, the village is planning to open a local weaving center, museum, and weaving school.


Vernacular architecture

Different regions in Ukraine have their own distinctive style of vernacular architecture, based on local traditions and the knowledge handed down through generations. The Museum of Folk Architecture and Way of Life of Central Naddnipryanshchyna is located in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi. The open air museum contains 13 theme museums, 122 examples of national architecture, and over 30,000 historical cultural objects. The Museum of Decorative Finishes is one of the featured museums that preserves the handiwork of decorative architectural applications in Ukrainian architecture. Decorative finishes use ancient traditional patterns like the lozenge shape, featured on the Pysanka Museum.


Main article: Music of Ukraine


Main article: Ukrainian dance

Traditional dances are popular within Ukraine, many of which derive from rural Cossack villages.[8] One Ukrainian style of dancing is called the kalyna. Both men and women participate in this type of dancing.

  • The women wear colourful costumes, sometimes featuring a solid-coloured (usually blue, green, red, or black) tunic and matching apron, and under that an open skirt, and below that a white skirt with an embroidered hem that should reach an inch or so below the knee. If they wear a tunic, then under that they wear a long-sleeved richly embroidered white shirt. Traditionally, women wear a type of red leather boots to dance in. They also wear a flower head piece (vinok), that is a headband covered with flowers and has long flowing ribbons down the back that flow when they dance, and plain red coral necklaces.
  • The men wear baggy trousers (usually blue, white, black or red) and a shirt (usually white, but sometimes black) embroidered at the neck and down the stomach. Over the shirt they sometimes will wear a richly embroidered vest. Around their waist they wear a thick sash with fringed ends. Like the women, they wear boots, but these can be black or white in addition to red.
  • Kalyna dancing involves partner dancing. One dance, called the pryvitannia, is a greeting dance. It is slow and respectful, the women bow to the audience and present bread with salt on a cloth and flowers. Another, called the hopak is much more lively, and involves many fast-paced movements. Hence hopak as a dance is derived from hopak martial art of Cossacks.

Theatre and Cinema

Main article: Theater in Ukraine
Main article: Cinema of Ukraine


Main article: Ukrainian literature

Museums and libraries

There are nearly 5,000 different museums in Ukraine,[9] e.g. National Art Museum of Ukraine, National Historical Museum of Ukraine, Museum of Western and Oriental Art, Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum in Kyiv, Lviv National Art Gallery, Poltava Art Museum, Simferopol Art Museum, and many others of art, history, traditions or dedicated to different issues.

There are 14 libraries of state significance (Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine, National historical library of Ukraine in Kyiv, Korolenko State Scientific Library in Kharkiv, and others), and 45,000 public libraries all over Ukraine. All these institutions own 700 millions of books.[10]


Main article: Ukrainian language

Mass media

Main article: Mass media of Ukraine


Main article: Education in Ukraine


Main article: Sport in Ukraine

Ukraine greatly benefitted from the Soviet emphasis on physical education, which left Ukraine with hundreds of stadiums, swimming pools, gymnasiums, and many other athletic facilities.

Football is the most popular sport in Ukraine. The top professional league is the Vyscha Liha, also known as the Ukrainian Premier League. The two most successful teams in the Vyscha Liha are rivals FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Although Shakhtar is the reigning champion of the Vyscha Liha, Dynamo Kyiv has been much more successful historically, winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup two times, the UEFA Super Cup once, the USSR Championship a record 13 times, and the Ukrainian Championship a record 12 times; while Shakhtar only won four Ukrainian Championships and one and last UEFA Cup.

Many Ukrainians also played for the USSR national football team, most notably Igor Belanov and Oleg Blokhin, winners of the prestigious Golden Ball Award for the best footballers of the year. This award was only presented to one Ukrainian after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Andriy Shevchenko, the current captain of the Ukraine national football team. The national team made its debut in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and reached the quarter-finals before losing to eventual champions, Italy.

Ukrainian brothers Vitaliy Klychko and Volodymyr Klychko have held world heavyweight champion titles in boxing.

Ukraine made its debut at the 1994 Winter Olympics. So far, Ukraine has been much more successful in the Summer Olympics (96 medals in four appearances) than in the Winter Olympics (Five medals in four appearances). Ukraine is currently ranked 35th by the number of gold medals won in the All-time Olympic Games medal count, with every country above it, except for Russia, having more appearances.

Other popular sports in Ukraine include handball, tennis, rugby union, basketball, gymnastics, and ice hockey.


Main article: Tourism in Ukraine

See also


Print sources

  • Dubrovytskyi Visnyk. November 2007. “…I ne pereshkoda letu lita”
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