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Spotlight on Culture

People that call this area Home

Other Ethnic Groups

Immigrants from other areas of the world

The Ukrainian people

Cultural Profile of their country of origin- Ukraine

Artistic Expressions: Dress Traditions

Common features of traditional Ukrainian clothes

Traditional Ukrainian clothes, with roots that go back to the times of Kievan Rus, have many styles. The way they look depends on the ethnographic region, but a common piece they use in every region is a type of homemade shirt, made of homespun cloth, that has always been the base for both male and female apparels. The main feature of this type of shirt (called vyshyvanka) is the embroidery on the neck, cuffs and hem. The word “vyshyvanka” however, is controversial in the country because to some Ukrainians, it suggests a Soviet-era flattening of the country’s diverse styles, and many have wanted to change that name. On their last celebration day (these happen the first Thursday of May every year), they simply called it "Embroidered shirt day".

The creation of the clothing is an art, and involves centuries-old techniques. For example, the cloth is made with threads that were colored with natural dyes made from elderberry, buckthorn, and oak bark. Designs are intricate and usually brightly colored, and represent scenes from Ukraine’s geography, forests and steppes, prairies and river canyons. Some designs are also white on white- as some of the population couldn't afford the expensive dyes. In the northern Chernihiv region, people adopted wintry patterns to accompany the white color. The ornamentation, composition, and colors were handed down from generation to generation. Today, these have become a stylish addition to everyday clothes. On the streets of Ukrainian cities you can see all kinds of people wearing a version of modern vyshyvankas, or embroidered shirts.

The folk clothing style of Ukraine is recognized by large bright flowers on the ladies’ attire and the geometric patterns on the men’s outfits. Traditionally, unmarried women wore their shirts without other outerwear, and married women had to cover their heads with a shawl, and add a waistcoat and maxi skirt. They also use accessories like belts, jewelry and headdresses (either a shawl or a floral wreath), decorated with ribbons and flowers, with an abundance of beads and ducats (coins). These elements determine the women’s status. Men’s traditional clothing is a lot simpler and resembles other Slavic nations' outfits, but the way they are worn is different. For the men, there are two main pieces: a linen shirt and cloth pants, these are characterized by the kind of embroidery they use, which varies by region.

There are 6 general styles for traditional clothes in the country. For more information on them, and pictures- visit this page.

NOTE- With this installment of our culture series, we talk about the culture of the country of Ukraine- a place that right now is fighting for their right to freedom and independence. Since that part is being covered by regular media, we will focus on portraying their culture, their people, and other notable details- and not delve into the tragedy they are currently living.

Stay tuned for more information on Ukraine and its culture, and more places and their people in future posts. Our area is blessed to be called home by many people of many cultures, and they deserve to be acknowledged.


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