Ukraine is rich in culture, reflected by their wealth of unique holidays. There are several in the spring season alone!
Pascha, or Easter, is one of the most important Ukrainian holidays. Before the holiday, Ukrainian Christians fast from meat and dairy products for forty days. After an all-night vigil, they come home from church to celebrate with a breakfast feast of foods including the hams, sausages, and cheeses they abstained from eating for over a month. Another staple of the feast is Paska, a sweet bread made with eggs and milk. These loaves are often decorated with twisted braids and flowers made of raisins or extra dough.
One symbol of Pascha is the pysanka, a beautifully decorated “easter egg.” The eggs include intricate religious symbolism.
International Women’s Day or Mother’s Day
International Women’s Day is a national holiday in Ukraine. Falling on March 8th, this holiday is tied to the old Soviet Union and its recognition of women who participated in the Russian Revolution. However, Ukraine is trying to abandon their ties to communism. As a result, they compare the holiday to Mother’s Day in western countries. The holiday is not as political as it was in the past. Today it focuses more on sharing appreciation for women. On this day, people visit their families and honor their mothers and other women through flowers and other small gifts.
Vyshyvanka Day is named for the traditional embroidered shirt known as vyshyvanka. Ukrainians are very proud of these articles of clothing. They’ve come to be one of the symbols of Ukraine. On the third Thursday of May, Ukrainian people around the world don their vyshyvankas. In Ukraine, you can see thousands of people dressed in these colorful shirts including the country’s political leaders.
Ukraine also has several holidays during the first few weeks of May. The first of these is Labor Day, a grim reminder of the country’s Soviet past. The holiday takes place on May 1st. The next holiday, Victory Day, falls on May 9th. Known as Victory Day, the holiday marks the end of the Second World War, also known as the Great Patriotic War in Ukraine. Sometimes cities will celebrate with military parades. During these official holidays, people often receive time off of work. However, the holidays are not as family-oriented as Pascha and International Women’s Day.