Ukrainian culture

Ukrainian culture and customs of Ukraine and ethnic Ukrainians. Ukraine has a shared culture and history with neighboring nations, dating back to the 9th century and the Land of Rus. Mutual customs are shared among the cultures of Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Ukrainian Cossacks and Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Church and traditions from Slavic mythology. The Soviet era unified the cultures of many unrelated nations with a common language.


Holidays and celebrations

Christmas icon, Adoration of the Shepherds, from the Ivan Honchar Museum collection. Artist unknown, c. 1670.

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!"


Traditional Ukrainian wedding celebrations have many rituals that involve music and dancing, drinking and eating, and crowds of people. The wedding consists of three separate parts that can last for days or even weeks. First there's a betrothal, then a ceremony, followed by a big celebration. The betrothal involves the groom going to the bride's parents to bargain for ransom he will pay for the bride and to seek the blessing of her parents. There are many stories in Ukrainian folklore of a bride being stolen without the groom paying ransom. Often, the stolen bride is a willing participant and the couple elopes without her parents permission. Alternatively, the bride can refuse an offer of marriage, in which case, it is customary for the parents to meet the groom at the door with a pumpkin to convey the message. After they reach an agreement, the official wedding takes place in a church, often in a group ceremony with other couples. A celebration follows at home with the entire community participating.


Main article: Education in Ukraine


Main article: Ukrainian language

The main language is Ukrainian.


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.


Ukrainian borscht with smetana
Main article: Ukrainian cuisine
See also: Ukrainian wine

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 are 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 include salo, borscht,[2] chicken kiev,[2] pierogi,and pilaf.



Golden-Domed Baroque architecture. St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery.

Ukrainian architecture reflects distinct features of that particular location and time period. Design and architecture are influenced by the existing political and economic climate.

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 design patterns.

Ornamental and visual art

On special occasions, every aspect of ordinary life is transformed into ornamental art form of artistic expression. Ornamentation and design motifs are steeped in symbolism, religious ritual and meaning. From the illuminated manuscripts of the Peresopnytsia Gospel to the famous pysanky and vytynanky, intricate details have ancient meaning. Much of the oral history was lost during the past 300 years of Russification of Ukraine when Ukrainian culture and language were forbidden. Organizations like the Ivan Honchar Museum, Pysanka Museum and the Ukrainian Museum are dedicated to historic preservation. Different regions of Ukraine have their own traditional ornamentation with their own variation of style and meaning. Examples can be seen in Petrykivsky Painting, ornamental architecture, Ukrainian embroidery, and textile motifs from various Ukrainian historical regions.


Ukrainians in national dress


Traditional costume

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. Garments are made using elaborate structural design, complicated weaving techniques, extensive embroidery, and cutwork needlework.

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.

Performance art


Main article: Ukrainian dance
The Hopak is often popularly referred to as the "National Dance of Ukraine".

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.


Main article: Music of Ukraine


Main article: Theater in Ukraine
National Art Museum of Ukraine. Established in 1898.

Museums and libraries

There are nearly 5,000 different museums in Ukraine,[9] including 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 literature

Ukrainian literature had a difficult development because, due to constant foreign domination over Ukrainian territories, there was often a significant difference between the spoken and written language. At times the use of the Ukrainian language was even partly prohibited to be printed. However, foreign rule by Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turkey, left behind new words thereby enriching Ukrainian. Despite tsarist and soviet repression, Ukrainian authors were able to produce a rich literary heritage.

Many Ukrainians also contributed to the closely related literature in Russian language.

Popular Culture


Main article: Cinema of Ukraine

Mass media

Main article: Mass media of Ukraine


Match of Ukraine national football team in UEFA Euro 2012.
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

Ukraine attracts more than 20 million visitors a year from around the world.[11] Seven Natural Wonders of Ukraine and Seven Wonders of Ukraine are popular destinations as well as modern urban cities, festivals, ecotourism, and medical tourism.

See also


Print sources

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