Traditions in Ukraine are interesting and unique, they are versatile and widespread! It is interesting that your young people are pleased to keep them – the tourists tell us. It is really true. This fact confirms the existence of the folk soul, gratitude to our ancestors, deep memory (the scientists call it the archetypical memory) and perception of generation connection. Ukrainian traditions, living and rather interesting folk heritage has been formed for many centuries. That is why despite our culturoligic European status and relatively short history of state we can take care of the spiritual continuity and we know well our native unwritten laws – the Ukrainian customs and traditions.
The words “custom” and “habit” are paronymous words in the Ukrainian language. It is an element of our everyday life which is bred-in-the-bone – we take it in with mother's milk, with singing of the beloved grandmother or with the legends of our land. It is our pleasure to share the merry Ukrainian customs with the guests of our country, invite them to celebrate Maslenitsa (Pancake Week) or Ivana Cupala holiday, give very beautiful wedding songs, amulet or embroidered towel, raise the glass of vodka or wine and offer a round loaf of bread or treat the guests with the delicious ritual food – pancakes, kollyva or Easter cake. And to share the joy of unity of the countries, times and people.
Our guests notice the main regularity: traditions in Ukraine are closely connected with the everyday, calendar and religious life. It is quite natural. Like in many nations, a lot of Ukrainian traditions and events were connected with the agricultural calendar. Harvest songs, Christmas carols or merry songs to meet the spring have accompanied the seasonal works since long ago. It was impossible to work hard without household magic rituals and to rest without masquerades, entertainments or ritual greetings and going round. Natural hospitability and cheerfulness was passed on from generation to generation exactly through these everyday Ukrainian customs.
Family is very important for the Ukrainians. Its origination and existence is accompanied by many Ukrainian rituals and rites, Ukrainian customs and traditions. Making a formal proposal of marriage (in a traditional ceremony with matchmakers coming to the house of the prospective bride's father), engagement, arrangements and covering the head of the bride (a move from the maidenhead to the married life), bachelorette party (hen party) or wedding train, invitation and wedding march with many ransoms for the bride – our contemporaries follow all these merry elements with pleasure. By the way, our girls are very ‘tolerant’ now – if they do not like the future husband, then they would give a baked pumpkin to the matchmakers in accordance with the Ukrainian custom. And the young couple really respects the parents – they bow from the waist to them after receiving round bread with salt. Generally speaking, the ceremony of marriage is called here “fun” (‘veselye’) – it is real fun!
Ukrainian customs connected to the birth of a child are filled with the rites and using of amulets. And also with many omens traditional in our country. The pregnant women are not recommended to meet the sick persons, look at the snakes or have their hair cut, sew or cut, buy something for a future child. The less people know about the future pregnancy – the better. Men and some women are not allowed to visit a newborn baby during the first 40 days. The Ukrainian rite of baptism is a very important one. It is a big sin to refuse the title of a godparent. A traditional Ukrainian crosswise haircut is performed at the first anniversary of birth. The Ukrainian omens are brought together with the Orthodox ones in these ritual actions.
Traditions in Ukraine are connected with the Old-Ukrainian heathen attributes. The youth, mischievous, poetic and very old holiday of Ivana Cupala (the night to July, 7), like in many Slavic nations, was connected with the Day of solstice some time ago. Nowadays you can see the girls to sing and dance in a ring and put the wreaths made of the flowers into the water and the guys jump over the fire and look for the blossoming fern. There is one more old Ukrainian tradition connected with the turn of the sun – January 7 (now – Christmas). Long time ago people used to tell fortunes in that winter time. Nowadays the Christmas Ukrainian customs include fortune-telling and addressing to the natural forces. Just before the Old New Year (January 13) children and teenagers still go round carol-singing. If you can sing or wish to celebrate someone you can earn a little of Ukrainian hrivnas or sweets. These children going round looks like American Halloween. One more Ukrainian tradition is to sanctify the water at Epiphany and believe in its wonderful and healing features at the night prior to the holiday. We clean our apartments on the Great Thursday (prior to Easter). We color the eggs and bake Easter cakes. We pray for the dead at the Commemoration Day. We see the winter off and meet the spring on Maslenitsa. We sanctify the fields and decorate our homes with the flowers on Trinity Sunday.
And now a few words about the Ukrainian omens for you not to be very surprised spending your time in Ukraine. Put something on inside out is considered to be an omen that you will be beaten. Do not give anything across the threshold not to quarrel – better step on the threshold or even more better – come inside. We guess it is the evident sign of the famous Ukrainian hospitability! If you wish your future husband to be red-haired – do not eat up (however, it is impossible to do – the dishes are very tasty). If you wish your new home to be prosperous – let a cat be the first to come in. If your aim is loneliness – have a sit at the corner of the table and then by the Ukrainian omens, you won’t get married. If you wish to give the flowers – buy the odd number of them (the even number is given at the funerals).
And if you are not afraid of all these traditions – visit Ukraine! You will make sure in the cities and villages, in every family, in children day care centers and schools, at weddings, baptism and anniversary ceremonies that the traditions in Ukraine are real folk property and you will be given part of it from the open heart!
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