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Author Topic: Ukrainian culture  (Read 27072 times)

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Offline mendeleyev

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Ukrainian culture
« on: March 25, 2008, 02:28:13 AM »
This will be a thread dedicated to sharing information, asking questions, and exploring Ukrainian culture together.  Come on in and enjoy yourself.

This thread makes these promises:

1- The tea will always be on so you can relax and stay awhile.
2- Kvas is always free while you're here.  We have cold Kvas in the fridge for westerners and warm Kvas bottles on the counter for easterners.
3- No smoking, we are a smoke free environment.
4- Tort and confetti are in plentiful supply.  Help yourself.
5- Just remember your mother doesn't live here.  If you spill something or make a mess please clean up after yourself.
6- Toilets are down the hall, on the right.  Please don't use the ones on the left, those are Russian only and the Russian mafia tend to be a bit territorial about Ukrainians in 'their' toilets.  Thanks for understanding.

Enjoy!

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2008, 02:33:26 AM »
Topical Guide to this thread:

Chronology of Ukraine, page 1
Currency, pages 1 & 4
Easter, page 2
Economy, page 4
Government, page 4
History of Ukraine, page 1
Language, page 4
Music, page 2





Ukrainian cities:
Follow this link to Ukrainian cities in the RUA thread on FSU cities:



Major Ukrainian cities:

Kiev - the capital and largest city of Ukraine
Lviv - the major city of Western Ukraine
Dnipropetrovsk - population 1.1 million inhabitants
Odessa - the Black sea's gateway to Ukraine
Kharkiv - 1.5 million inhabitants. Second largest city
Donetsk - industrial center of Ukraine
Zaporizhzhya - 800 thousands inhabitants
Uzhhorod - Main town in Transcarpathian (Zakarpatska) region of Ukraine
Chernivtsi - 250 thousands inhabitants
Vinnytsia - 330 thousands inhabitants
Crimean peninsula - the resorts' area of Ukraine. Mountains & Black sea

Offline Jinx

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2008, 10:14:50 PM »
 Mendeleyev,

  I would be interested in finding out the history of Ukrainian culture, did they borrow from other countries...Russia of course (other way round actually), but what about other influences, like Romanian, Polish, Turkish, Mongol etc.? Ukraine was sacked so many times, I'm sure bits and pieces of other cultures were absorbed.

 I see a sort of gypsy, Romanian influence in many things, but maybe I'm wrong  ???

 The history of Ukraine is fascinating, it's a land that was in the middle of everything, a gateway. The name "Ukraine" means borderland I think. So much has happened there, a long history of turmoil and war, struggle and survival, you have to admire them for still being around and thriving as a culture.  :party0031:

 

 


Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2008, 03:19:33 PM »
Yaroslav Kryshtalsky, President of The Ukrainian Institute of America in the NYC York gives a nice piece on promoting Ukraine and its culture abroad then and now:



One of the best histories of Ukraine, including the periods of domination by outside kingdoms right up to the present time, is found here.


Here is a modern look at old time Ukrainian culture as expressed through dancing and music. This blend of new and old is fascinating!

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2008, 09:10:33 PM »
My friend 'Vova' (Vladimir) in Kherson owns a translations company named Ukraine Postal Express.  Here is some great historical information taken from his site www.ukrainepostalexpress.com

Allow me to briefly tell you a little more about Vladimir.  He is a man in the finest sense of the word.  Honest, direct and compassionate.  When his daughter was born disabled, instead of consigning her to an institution like so many, Vladimir and his wife have raised this special girl and cared for her themselves.  On that alone, he is a man among men.

Secondly, his business is to translate letters.  Much of his work is translating between western men and Ukrainian ladies.  He understands both languages and both cultures and is often asked for advice in addition to translating.  I don't need to recommend him or suggest that you use his services.  His work and his reputation speaks for itself.  He is very proud of his country, it's place in history and it's culture.  So with gratitude we acknowledge that the information in this post was taken from his website.


In The Beginning
Archeological finds show that the earliest inhabitants of Ukraine were Neolithic tribes in the Dnipro and Dniester valleys, who had settlements in the area of Kyiv 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. At that time, the area between the Black Sea and the glacial ice sheet of the last Ice Age was a level, fertile region with a cool, temperate climate: ideal for nomadic people and their flocks.

The first organized society in the region were the Scythians, who had tamed horses and used this mobility to rule most of the region north of the Black Sea. The Scythians flourished in the 8th to 1st century B.C. before succumbing to successive waves of migrating tribes sweeping in from the north and from Asia. In the 1st century BC to 6th century A.D. the region was overrun in turn by the Goths, Ostragoths, Visigoths, Huns, and Avars. The last such wave of migration were the Khazars, who ruled the region from the 7th to the 9th centuries. Their empire in turn started to crumble with the arrival of Kyivan Rus.

Rise Of The Kyivan Rus
The origin of Ukraine and its people dates from the late 600s when a Nordic people known as the Rus (from which we get the term "Russian") first entered the region.

At first, the Rus were concerned mainly with reaching Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey) along a network of rivers and portage roads reaching from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Down this route flowed furs, slaves and the priceless Baltic amber. In return, manufactured goods, wine, silks and gold flowed north.


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To further this effort, the Rus established several small trading settlements along this "Amber Route"- notable among them being Kyiv (known as Kiev in the west); a point where several rivers meet.

The Rus settlers of Kyiv built their first citadel at the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 6th centuries on the steep right bank of the Dnipro River to protect themselves from the marauding nomadic tribes of the region. The evolution of Kyiv into a city was tied closely to the development of the Kyivan Rus feudal state. Later, Kyiv's Grand Princes built their palaces and churches on Starokievska Hill, while artisans and merchants built their houses next to the wharf on the Dnipro.

Although vastly outnumbered, the warlike Norsemen used a combination of discipline, diplomacy and ruthless aggression to establish a strong, and ultimately dominant, position along the Amber Route. Within a few centuries, the Rus had evolved into three separate and distinct cultures: the Baltic Rus in the north, the Rus proper in the midlands around what later became Moscovy, and the Kyivan Rus in the south.

By the end of the 9th century, the Kyivan Rus princes had united the scattered Slavic tribes, with Kyiv as the political center of the Eastern Slavs. Legends and historical documents describe courageous Kyivites defending their city over the ages against the Khazars and Pechenegs, Polovtsi, Mongols, Lithuanian and Polish feudal lords, the Duchy of Muscovy, and the Russian Empire.

The Kyivan Rus reached their peak during the reign of Prince Volodymir the Great (980-1015). In 988, intent on strengthening his position, Volodymir introduced Christianity to improve political and cultural relations with the Byzantine Empire, the Bulgarians, and other countries of Western Europe and the Near East. By the 11th century, Kyiv was one of the largest centers of civilization in the Christian World. It boasted over 400 churches, eight markets and nearly 50,000 inhabitants. By comparison, London, Hamburg and Gdansk each had around 20,000.

After the death of the great Kyivan Prince Vladimir Monomakh (1125), the Kyivan Rus became involved in a long period of feudal wars. Foreign powers were quick to take advantage of this situation and the various Kyivan princelings spent as much time battling foreign aggressors as each other. But it soon developed that the Kyivan Rus, along with the rest of Europe, had a common, more pressing problem: the Mongols.

The Scourge Of The East
In the mid-13th century, the Golden Horde of Genghis Khan swept out of Asia like wildfire. The Mongols fielded an army only about 20,000 strong, but they were entirely highly trained horsemen who used tactics later copied by Heinz Gudaren and Erwin Rommel. Against the European's press-ganged peasant mobs, it was no contest. The Golden Horde routinely crushed armies ten times their size. Were it not for the untimely death of the Genghis Khan, all of Europe might have been overrun.

Against this overwhelming "blitzkrieg", not even the best defended cities could resist. In the autumn of 1240, the Mongols headed by Batu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, finally captured Kyiv after a series of long and bloody battles. Thousands of people were killed and much of the city was razed. Kyiv fell into a prolonged period of decline. The Mongols (also known as the Tartars by westerners) ruled for almost a century.

Pawns Of Empire
Despite foreign rule, Kyiv retained its artisan, trade, and cultural traditions of the ancient Kiyvan-Rus and remained an important political, commercial and cultural center. The furocious Mongols, ill suited for city life, soon began to assimilate and lose much of their former aggressiveness. As they melted into the local culture, a new political structure, the Galician-Volynian principality, grew from the blending of Rus and Mongol.

The late 14th century brought a growing threat from the northwest. The Kingdom of Lithuania (the Baltic Rus) and Poland began to enlarge their territory at the expense of their eastern neighbors. Soon the Poles were pressing into the western part of Ukraine while the Lithuanians helped themselves to the area just to the north (in modern Belarus). This was not a large scale invasion as such, but more a series of small scale actions in which various feudal nobles were overthrown and their lands occupied in a sort of creeping conquest. At the same time, to the south and southeast, the Turks were making similar moves into the Crimea and along the Sea of Azov.

Unfortunately, the Galician-Volynian principality had lost much of the warrior spirit of their ancestors and proved too weak and decentralized to organize an effective defense. While nobles and religious factions feuded among themselves, the rot settled deeper into the principality and the foreign armies grew ever closer to Kyiv.

At the beginning of the 16th century, a new force appeared on the scene: the Ukrainian Kozaks (Cossacks). The Kozaks started as semi-autonomous slavic tribes settled in various regions of Ukraine. As the authority of Kyiv waned, these tribes took increasing control of their own affairs and were soon forming loose knit alliances. As the Galician-Volynian principality fell apart, this alliance rallied under the Zaporozhyan Sich, which became the military and political organization of the Ukrainian Kozaks and thus of Ukraine.

By the mid-17th century, the foreign erosion had taken over half of Ukraine, with the Poles finally occupying Kyiv itself. This led the Zaporozhyan Sich to war against Poland (in 1648-1654) to regain this lost territory. However, the Poles (then at the height of their military strength) proved to be too great a challenge. In desperation, Ukraine turned to their northern neighbor, the Duchy of Moscovy, for protection.


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The Romanovs
Modern Russia came into being in the 1300s when a Rus Duke known as Ivan the Terrible began expanding his influence along the Amber Route from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. As part of this effort, he fortified the monastery at Moscovy (in Russian, the word Kremlin means "fortified city") and made it his formal capital.


Monomacho's Cap Of State
The hereditary Crown of the Tsars of All Russias. This beautiful work of art was created in the Orient in the late 13th Century and is made of gold with gems, pearls and sable trim. Now on display at the Russian Museum, Moscovy.
 

The Russian Empire was ruled from first to last by the heirs of Ivan the Terrible: known as the Romanov Dynasty and originally styled as the "Tsars of All Russians". (The term "Tsar" is the Russian translation of "Caesar".) Later, as the nation state concept came into being, the Romanovs began to think of themselves as the Emperors of a group of subject states, and thus began calling themselves the "Tsars of All Russias".

In 1654, a treaty of political and military alliance was signed and Ukraine came under the influence of Moscovy for the first time. What had been supposed as a military alliance soon grew into Russian domination over Ukraine. For nearly a century, the Zaporozhyan Sich maintained a nominal, if increasingly fictional, sovereignty. In 1775, however, the Sich was finally suppressed by the Tsar and Ukraine became a vassal state.

Despite this, the Kozaks were not a force to be ignored. What emerged was something of a unique phenomenon: from the later 1700s until the Great War, the Kozaks held a special role as "overseers", a form of middle class, maintaining order among the serfs at the behest of the Romanov aristocracy.

As late as the beginning of the 20th century, the Tsar was a true despot, answerable to no one except the ever present risk of assassination.

The 20th Century
The last 100 years have been a time of turmoil for Ukraine, starting with an all but forgotten war in the far Orient.

Historically, whenever the Tsars lost a war, they were forced by public unrest to institute social reforms. (It was the disastrous showing of the Tsarist armies in the Crimean War that resulted in the freeing of the serfs in 1863.) The Russo-Japanese war of 1905-1906 was no exception. In short order, the bulk of the Tsarist navy was sunk and the Tsarist armies fought to a bloody stalemate in Mongolia. Even the peace imposed by western powers could not prevent a tidal wave of unrest from erupting into revolution.

In Ukraine, actual revolt was limited and sporadic, although the Ukrainians siezed on the opportunity to strengthen their national identity. To prevent yet another uprising in the south, the Tsar conceded a limited autonomy to a loose knit Ukrainian nationalist movement. Political and labor organizatons came into being and the ban on the Ukrainian language recended. It was enough to keep the lid on until the revolts in the north and west could be crushed.

This reprive for the Tsar was short lived, however. In the Great War of 1914-1918, the generalship of the Tsarist officer corps was abysmal. By 1917, the Tsarist armies had been bled white at battles such as Tannenburg- where over 500,000 Russians were killed in action. This time, the situation was beyond saving. The rising unrest and mounting battlefield losses were simply too much: the decayed Romanov aristocracy collapsed, plunging Russia into civil war.

When the Tsar abdicated in early 1917, Ukraine made its first tentative steps toward independence as a provisional government, the Central Rada, was formed. When the Bolsheviks staged their revolution late in the year, the Central Rada formally declared independence and Ukraine, after two centuries, finally became free.

Unfortunately, Ukraine was simply not ready for political independence. The country split in two, with the western part becoming a separate state

As a practical matter, Ukraine soon became a stronghold of the "White" (Tsarist) Russians during the civil wars of the 1920s. When they were finally suppressed, the "Reds" (Soviets) ruthlessly crushed any remaining nationalist tendencies in a series of purges that saw millions killed or sent into exile in Siberia. Notable among these were the Kozaks, who had fought fiercely for their traditional rulers, and the reminants of the Tartars.

The dream of an independent Ukraine ended with the triumph of the Bolsheviks and the founding of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922. In an attempt to stack the deck at the newly formed League of Nations, the new Soviet Empire was made up of supposedly separate states in a "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics". In reality, however, Ukraine was a conquered province ruled directly from Moscovy.

The 1930s, the purges begun by Lenin continued- and grew- under Joseph Stalin.

There were also any number of "Hero Projects"- public works programs which, though badly needed to modernize the USSR, relied heavily on slave labor. Throughout the Stalinist era (and later) the KGB spent much of its time rounding up supposed "enemies of the state" on the flimsiest of legal excuses (often fabricating testimony and evidence) to be sentenced for construction work in Siberia.

Ukraine, having long been a rebellious region, suffered more than the run of the mill Russians.

The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 saw Ukraine overrun by the Nazi armies. When the Germans first arrived, they were greeted by many Ukrainians as liberators (an error of perception that the SS and Gestapo soon rectified). In short order, the Ukrainian hinterland seethed with systematic guerella warfare and few Germans who wandered outside their fortified cities returned alive.

The German field commanders seemed perplexed at this tenacious resistance, wondering why anyone would fight to return to Stalin's rule. They would learn the hard way a lesson that all too many aggressors overlook: that a people will fight not for their dictators, but for their homes and families.

This truth would contribute to the Nazi downfall. The resistance that plagued the German rear areas drew away troops, consumed badly needed supplies and disrupted the rail lines, which had a direct impact on the fighting further to the east and led to the eventual distruction of an entire German Army Group at the battle of Stalingrad.

When the war ended, most Ukrainian cities - notably Kiev, Dnipropetrovs'k and Sevastopol - were in ruins. The Dnipro river was a major German defensive line prior to the general retreat of 1944, and these cities suffered prolonged sieges.

Not only did the fighting cause great destruction, but both sides practiced scorched earth policies to deny resources to their foes. Just as the retreating Soviets had done in 1941, the retreating Germans in 1944 systematically wreaked the railroads and other infrustructure and stripped the region of all resources, leaving its population to starve. To this day, mention of the "Fascists" will produce a sharp reaction from most Ukrainians.

The returning Soviet Armies were ruthless with the remaining population. In the immediate postwar period, there was an upswell of Ukrainian nationalist sentiment. In the paranoia of Stalinist Moscovy, anyone who had not fled or died fighting could very well be collaborators. A key province such as Ukraine, flushed with victory after driving the Germans out and fielding a substantial army, was something that Stalin could not accept for a moment. (Further west, Yugoslavia was in a similar situation, although their tough and well equipped army was a more formidible proposition than the Ukrainian guerella bands.) Moscovy was quick

Postwar treaties enlarged the Ukraine at the expense of German allies Hungary and Romania.


Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2008, 09:14:39 PM »
Taken from www.ukrainepostalexpress.com


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The Rebirth Of Ukraine
By 1990, the economic situation in the Soviet Union was so bad that even the KGB could no longer keep the lid on. With the coming of glasnost, Ukrainian nationalist and separatist sentiments were increasingly voiced.

The brief Kremlin revolt of 1991, a last ditch attempt by the hard liners to maintain the USSR, actually goaded several regions, including the Baltic States, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine, into declaring independence.

Another headache Ukraine inherited was a sizable chunk of the Soviet military, including an enormous nuclear arsenal and the substantial Black Sea Fleet. Sensibly, they arranged for the nuclear missiles to be dismantled and returned to Russia (thus becoming the first nuclear power to voluntarily disarm). The brand new Ukrainian Navy took over most of the small craft (patrol boats, frigates and destroyers) of the Black Sea Fleet while Soviet land and air units (which were largely defunct due to mass desertions) were absorbed into the Ukrainian Army and Air Force.

The Crimean peninsula has a substantial ethnic Russian population due to their long standing military presence. The Russian navy still maintains a fleet base at Sevastopol and other military bases in the region. This fleet (cruisers, nuclear submarines and a small carrier) is largely rusted scrap and the military units demoralized and ill equipped due to Russia's financial straits. This, along with the traditional emnity Ukrainians feel for Russians has led to political tensions and social unrest in Crimea.

Ukraine has been extremely wary of Russia's influence in post-Soviet interrepublican affairs and has moved to limit its economic integration with the Russian-dominated CIS. (This break from the past and the ever closer relations being forged with the West have made Ukraine one of the few former regions of the USSR that is showing any sign of recovery.)

In the time since independence, Ukraine has passed several critical milestones in its evolution to a free society. Notable among these is the creation of a multiparty political system, an independent judiciary and the orderly election of a new President. Ukraine is also building close ties to the European Economic Union and has begun a series of economic reforms.

While there are still severe economic and social problems, including serious inflation, energy shortages, deteriorating infrastructure and high unemployment, Ukraine is the most stable and prosperous of the successor states of the former Soviet Union.

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Chronology Of Ukraine's History
7th-9th centuries: Creation of the medieval Kyivan Rus' state.

988: Christianity adopted by Prince Volodymyr.

1130's: Beginning of the feudal break-up of the Kyivan state.

1187,1189,1217: First three documented references to the term "Ukraine" appear in the Hypatian Chronicle.

1237-1241: Tartar invasion, the destruction of Kyiv.

13th -14th century: Founding of the Galician-Volynian principality, which controlled a significant part of the territory of the former Kievan Rus'-Ukraine state.

mid-14th century: The lands of Rus'-Ukraine are gradually occupied by Lithuania, Poland, and Turkey.

1492: First documented reference to the Ukrainian Kozaks (Cossacks).

Early 16th century: Founding of the Zaporozhyan Sich, the military-administrative and political organization of the Ukrainian Kozaks.

1569: Treaty of Lublin signed by Lithuania and Poland. The beginning of Polish expansion in the part of Ukraine east of the Dnipro River. Treaty of Berestya (between a segment of the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful and the Roman Catholic Church).

1648-1654: Ukrainian liberation war against Poland.

1654: Treaty of Pereyaslav, a military and political alliance signed between Ukraine and Russia. (A written agreement was signed in March between Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Russian Tsar concerning the status of Ukraine under the protection of the Russian state).

1764-1775: The Zaporozhyan Sich is suppressed by the Russian Tsarist government.

1792: Ukrainian settlement of the Kuban region begins.

1905-1906: First revolution in Russia; a Ukrainian movement is galvanized, Ukrainians are permitted to form organizations, the ban on the Ukrainian language is abolished.

1917, March: The fall of the Russian monarchy and the creation of the Central Rada in Ukraine.

1917, November: The Bolsheviks seize power in Petrograd; the Central Rada proclaims its power in nine provinces with a Ukrainian population and the course toward state autonomy is set.

1918, January 22: Declaration of independence of the Ukrainian National Republic.

1918, April 29: Mykhaylo Hrushevsky elected President of Ukraine.

1918, November 1: Founding of the Western Ukrainian National Republic (lasted until 1919); war between Western Ukraine and Poland.

1919, January 22: The union of the Western Ukrainian National Republic with the Ukrainian National Republic.

1919, December: The Bolsheviks form the third Soviet Ukrainian government.

1920: S. Petlyura signs the Warsaw Treaty concerning the joint Ukrainian-Polish armed struggle against the Bolsheviks.

1921, November: The Bolsheviks begin consolidating Soviet rule in Ukraine.

1922, December: The formation of the USSR, including the Ukrainian SSR.

1929, January 29: Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) under the leadership of Eugene Konovalets was formed.

1929: The Soviet authorities launch a campaign of repression directed against the Ukrainian intelligentsia; 45 Ukrainian intellectuals are charged with belonging to the secret organization "Union for the Liberation of Ukraine"; the persecution of the hierarchies of the independent Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church begins.

1932-1933: A genocidal famine, organized by Moscow, results in the deaths of 8 million Ukrainians living in rural areas.

1936-1937: Mass arrests in Ukraine; hundreds of Ukrainian intellectuals are liquidated.

1938: Carpatho-Ukraine is made an autonomous land with its own government within the federated republic of Czechoslovakia; the creation of the military organization "Carpathian Sich".

1939, March 15: The government of A. Voloshyn proclaims the independence of Carpatho-Ukraine; in accordance with a secret pact signed by Hungary and Germany, the Hungarian armies occupy Carpatho-Ukraine.

1939: Western Ukrainian lands are annexed to the Ukrainian SSR.

1941-1944: Great Patriotic War: Germany occupies Ukraine.

1942: The creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

1945: Together with 50 other nations, Ukraine becomes a founding member of the United Nations.

1946: The Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church is banned; mass repressions are launched against its clergy and faithful.

Late 1950s-early 1960s: The period of Khrushchev's "thaw" in the USSR begins; the emergence of the "sixtyers" movement.

1972: Arrests of members of the Ukrainian dissident movement.

1989: The creation of the popular movement in Ukraine for restructuring (RUKH).

1990, July 16: Declaration of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine proclaims the state sovereignty of Ukraine.

1991, August 24: The Supreme Rada adopts the Act proclaiming the state independence of Ukraine.


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Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2008, 09:22:53 PM »
Now let's look at Ukrainian culture, again compliments of www.ukrainepostalexpress.com


Ukraine
Ukraine is a broad, flat land resembling Kansas in the USA. It nestles between the Carpathian Alps to the west, the Black Sea to the south and the Sea of Azov to the east. To the north is Belarus (part of the ancient Kingdom of Lithuania) and Russia proper. A peninsula, the Crimea, juts out into the Black Sea.

The broad Dnipro river runs down through the center of the country. To the east of the Dnipro the land is flat and has rich soil ideal for farming. It is no wonder, then, that Ukraine is called "the bread basket of eastern Europe". To the west of the Dnipro, the land is more hilly and rolling, eventually becoming fairly rugged as the western part of Ukraine reaches into the foothills of the Carpathian Alps.


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The Ukrainian People
Ukraine has long been a crossroads between Europe, Arabia and the Orient, and the modern Ukrainian Rus have acquired a strong admixture of Asiatic and Arabic blood: giving them an average height, slender build and fair complexion.

Strictly speaking, the popular-image beefy Slavic people are found mostly in the western Ukraine (bordering on Poland, Hungary and the Slovak states) and in the north and northeast adjacent to Russia.

For over a century, the official language was Russian. Since independence, Ukrainian is being promoted as the state language although Russian is still the most widespread, especially in the major cities. In villages people speak both Russian and Ukrainian. As a rule of thumb, you can manage by speaking Russian, although you may receive a bit of resistance from public officials who are being pressed to use Ukrainian.

Ukrainians are passionately nationalistic- having only recently been freed from two centuries of Russian domination. They think of themselves as strongly pro-western (a legacy of Soviet domination) and they have a particular fascination with the United States. English is commonly taught in public schools and is rapidly becoming an informal second language.



Social Life
The Ukrainians are a gregarious people who will often gather in cafes or street markets to socialize. A common practice is for friends to visit each other at home to spend time chatting over tea. As Ukraine is a largely rural nation, most Ukrainians live in small farm towns. There are relatively few large cities, which are generally not very sophisticated by western standards. As such, the Ukrainians feel most at home in a rural or small town setting.

Holidays and Festivals
Ukrainians, like other nations, have many traditions and holidays. During the Soviet era, some of the religious based holidays such as Easter and Christmas were officially discouraged. The celebration of these two holidays was ignored for many years, but have made a resurgence in the post Soviet era. Here is a list of some of the more popular Ukrainian holidays:

New Year's Day. This holiday serves as the Ukrainian equivalent to Christmas in the United States. It is a wonderful time for children as well as for grown-ups, and is often called the family holiday. On New Year's Eve, children decorate a fir or a pine tree with shining balls and toys. The mothers cook a festive dinner. On New Year's Day there is an exchange of presents.

January 7, Eastern Orthodox Christmas. Unlike Christmas in America, this is primarily a religious holiday.

Easter--dates change each year as the exact date is calculated according to rotation of the earth and moon. The traditional Easter greeting is "The Lord has resurrected!" On Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning people put an Easter cake, painted eggs, butter and cheese into a basket and go to church for the blessing of the food. "Pisanka" (a painted Easter egg) is one of the most interesting sorts of Ukrainian decorative art.

March 8, Women's Day. This is an occasion to display love, tenderness and gratitude to those who care for us most - to mothers and grandmothers, sisters and daughters.

May 1-2, Spring and Labor Days. These primary Soviet holidays have lost their political meaning and are now traditional days off.

May 9, Victory Day. This is the day of commemoration of those who perished in the war against fascism.

August 24, Ukrainian Independence Day.

November 7. This former Soviet holiday has lost its political meaning and is now a traditional day off.

Ukrainian Cities
A typical city in Ukraine is a study of contrasts. You will find elements of the pre-Soviet era, with the ornate domed architecture of churches and public buildings. Much of this, however, was leveled during the Great Patriotic War and replaced with drab Soviet factories, public structures and workers flats (as they refer to apartments).


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Most Ukrainians live in large high rise blocks of flats (remarkably similar to the "projects" in America's inner cities) which were built by the Soviets. In something of a last laugh, when the Soviet Union collapsed, most Ukrainians simply took possession of their assigned flats in a wave of instantaneous privatization.

In the post Soviet era, a wave of new construction (mostly by foreign companies entering the Ukrainian markets) has seen American style fast food restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions sprouting up in the major cities.

Religion
The primary religion in Ukraine is Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

The Ukrainian Jewish community was decimated during the Great Patriotic War (World War 2) and by postwar Soviet repression. However, it is starting to make a significant comeback.

The third popular religion is Islam, found mostly in the southern and southeastern part of the country adjacent to the Islamic states of the Middle East.


Travel
Traveling to Ukraine by air from America generally involves departing from New York City with a change of airplanes at Vienna. From there, flights terminate at either Kyiv or Odessa, the two primary international air terminals. At the time this was written, the structure of air fares and connections made arriving in Kyiv and taking the train further south both cost and time competitive with arrival at Odessa.

In Ukraine, people mostly travel by train. You can reach any Ukrainian city by train, and their rail services are good by American standards. It is always interesting to sit by the window, have meals, read books, and see the fertile landscape rolling past. There are various classes of service, ranging from a twin compartment to open coach seating. Fares are reasonable and service on most routes is at least twice daily. Like much of Ukraine, the rail system is having its problems. However, train travel can be quite pleasant if one is willing to indulge in a bit of 'roughing it'.


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In summer when the train stops at village stations you can buy fruits (peaches, water melons, apples, pears) and bread. These are sold by the "babushkas" (grandmothers) from the local farms. These foods are very economical, and selling to passengers on trains is often a significant part of the income in small villages.

Travel by automobile is difficult as service facilities are minimal and the road network largely undeveloped. Most Ukrainian roads are in fact former Soviet military highways and are now in a serious state of disrepair. There are some intercity bus services, but they are uncomfortable, erratic and slow.


Food
Ukrainian cooking uses black pepper, red pepper, salt, bay leaf, parsley and dill (usually in spring and summer), garlic and onion. Staples include potatoes, cabbage, fish, pork, beef and sausage. Ukrainian people eat many dishes made of potato.


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During the Soviet era, there were chronic shortages of food. However, as Ukraine is an agricultural country, today there is much meat in the market (beef, pork, chickens, turkey) as well as cheese, butter, bread and milk. However, for some items, notably cheese, prices are still very high.

As for finding American food- the large cities have specialist restaurants with Western cuisine for tourists, and these are beginning to filter down into the medium sized cities. Small towns and villages may not have any public food services at all, although grocery stores and street markets are common.

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2008, 09:41:09 PM »
This map is a transportation map.  It shows first the Railroads which constitute the primary mode of public transportation across Ukraine.  Highways and airports are also legended.  We've tried to leave it as big as possible to make it useful for you.


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Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2008, 12:12:17 AM »
Book review:

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Is Ukraine a Borderland?

There are very few books published in the west about Ukraine for the general public. Anna Reid’s 'Borderland,' that was released back in 1997, is one of them. What follows is no way an analysis — but several personal views on the book.

Alex Pan, a translator (Ukrainian):  “The story — Ukraine as borderland, Ukraine as battlefield, Ukraine as newborn state struggling to build itself a national identity — begins in Kiev. When I flew in, on a winter’s night of 1993, the airport baggage hall was ankle-deep in lumpy brown slush… The road into the city — Ukraine’s only four-lane highway, I found out later — was wrapped in Blitz-like blackness… My companions smelt of wet clothes and old food, and carried large, oddly shaped bundles wrapped in string… Deposited in a silent square in the middle of an invisible I went in search of a telephone box. What I found was a scratched bit of aluminium coping with an ancient Bakelite receiver attached — no instructions, no phone directory, no light…— my Ukrainian journey had begun.”

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(Ukraine's Carpathian mountains in winter.)


Offline Cestmoi

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2008, 01:44:02 AM »
If I will be allowed to add, there are holidays in February too. In February we celebrate baptising of Christ, and in Russia there is the name for February cold weather "Крещенские морозы'.

There are series of religious holidays preceding Easter. Both Christmas and Easter are highly religious holidays - they are not about shopping or giving presents.

I will read what has been posted about Ukrainian holidays and traditions, and if I can add something - will post my comments :-)


Also, two other small remarks/corrections.

This is not quite true that ukrainian people would feel themselves most comfortable in small farm-towns. They actually do quite well adapting in big cities - be it Moscow or NYC.

about food - i do not think there were regular shortages of food during Soviet time. This is quite loose statement, and generally not true. It is true there were famines in 20s and 30s, then food shortage following WWII when country was rebuilding, then there were decades of relative prosperity, and in early 90s there was a time of "deficiency" - when it was problematic to buy any produce. People were not starving, they just needed to wait in the queus to buy sugar, or butter, or kitchenware, etc. It is completely wrong to say that during Soviet time people were not able to buy meat. You should try to get a book "О вкусной и здоровой пище" :-) published in Soviet time. And also - if life was so bad in Soviet time - why then all these retired people are saying that now things are worse and they had much better life back then? There was also difference between food supply in cities and in countryside. But people in countryside still have "natural production" - the only grocery shopping they do - spices, salt, bread. All meat, vegetables, fruits, milk/butter - is "produced" by the household.

I also completely disagree that "prices for cheese are still high". High compared to what? They are lower than prices for cheese and milk products in Russia, definitely lower than US or European prices, cheaper than meat.. You can get blue-veined hard cheese of "Rokfort" type for UAH 36-40/kg, which is less than less than $4/lb. You can get "less sophisticated" cheese cheaper - around $2/lb. And Ukrainian cheese is MUCH better than American. If you compare to the salaries - yes, it is relatively expensive, but it isn't going to get any cheaper, and it never was. Also, bread production has been and probably still is subsidised in Ukraine. So bread is very cheap, the other grocery products - are just priced normally.

 


Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2008, 09:29:35 AM »
Great book recommendation:  The Ukrainians; Unexpected Nation
Published by Yale University Press (Second Edition)

Author Andrew Wilson is senior Lecturer in Ukrainian Studies, University College, London

One of the most comprehensive books on the history of Ukraine.  Traces the history of the Ukrainian tribes thru the founding of Russia and to the founding of modern day Ukraine.

Available at Google Books and Amazon. 

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Review from the Library Journal:
This marvelous work examines Ukrainian history and politics in light of the literature of the country's nationalism. Legends of a heroic past buttress feelings of kinship within national groups, and nationalists, consequently, look to antiquity to rally popular support. Accordingly, Wilson (Ukrainian studies, University Coll., London) surveys the myth of national origin conveyed by Ukraine's supposed biblical origins and the lays (ballads) of ancient Russia. Memories of past grievances, such as subjugation to foreign powers, typically bolster national sentiments. Though Russia dominated the country until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukrainians take pride in their ancient culture, and the widespread use of the Russian language is a daily reminder to the Ukrainians of their traumatic past. Wilson rounds out the study by assessing the country's economic prospects and sketching a future course for Ukrainian geopolitics. As always, the past informs the politics of today. A perfect introduction to a fascinating culture; strongly recommended for all libraries.
Reviewed by James R. Holmes, Ph.D. candidate, Fletcher Sch. of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts Univ., Medford, MA

Offline Cestmoi

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2008, 10:17:56 AM »
The first organized society in the region were the Scythians...

I think the first organized society in the region was Trypillia 5,508 - 2,750 BC
http://www.trypillia.com/info/index.shtml they were farming, non-nomadic culture. They had pottery painted in symbolic colors (red, black, yellow) and symbolic patterns/images - some of these colors combinations and patterns can still be seen on the ukrainian embroidered towels, tablecloths, and shirts, and also on the painted Easter eggs.

Some archaeologists/historians/culturologists suggest proto-sumer nature of the symbols used in Trypillia culture, and few - offer alternative hypothesis that some cult/cultural sites are much older than officially recognized - up to 12'000 BC.


Scythians -  starting from 3500 BC (version 1)  or from 800 BC ( "late scyths" - version 2). 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythians

Sarmathians - 300 BC - 400 AD.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarmatians

both scythians and sarmats were invasive nomadic tribes, raising horses and making wars. Scythians phenotypically looked more "southern-oriental" - darker hair and eyes, not very tall. Sarmats were blond with blue/light eyes taller and slimmer. In Sarmathian society women had equal rights with men. Sarmat women were fighting together with men, some historians suggest that Sarmat women lay ground for myth about "Amazon women".  Western men might want to keep this historical fact in mind, while marrying ukrainian woman  ;D :laugh:

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2008, 11:02:06 AM »

"Hymn of Ukraine"
Ukraine has not yet perished, neither her glory, nor freedom,
Upon us, fellow-Ukrainians, fate shall smile once more.
Our enemies will vanish, like dew in the morning sun,
And we too shall dwell, brothers, in a free land of our own.

We'll lay down our souls and bodies to attain our freedom,
And we'll show that we, brothers, are of the Kozak nation.

We'll stand together for freedom, from the Sian to the Don,
We will not allow others to rule in our motherland.
The Black Sea will smile and grandfather Dnipro will rejoice,
For in our own Ukraine fortune shall flourish again.

Our persistence and our sincere toils will be rewarded,
And freedom's song will resound throughout all of Ukraine.
Echoing off the Carpathians, and rumbling across the steppes,
Ukraine's fame and glory will be known among all nations.


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Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Ukrainian culture
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2008, 06:42:45 PM »
In a PM, member Zabikol wrote,
Enjoyed your posts in there about Ukrainian history, but have to point out one mistake:

Quote
they arranged for the nuclear missiles to be dismantled and returned to Russia (thus becoming the first nuclear power to voluntarily disarm

I don't think this is accurate as South Africa was the first:  The Republic of South Africa is the first and (thus far) only nation to have successfully developed nuclear weapons, and then voluntarily relinquished that capability.

In a 24 March 1993 speech, President de Klerk not only revealed that South Africa had produced nuclear weapons, but that the arsenal had been destroyed before 10 July 1991, when South Africa joined the NPT. Indeed - it appears that not only have the weapons themselves been destroyed, and the fissile material recast into non-weapon ingots, but all design and production information has been destroyed as well.

Taken from http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Safrica/SABeginning.html I can look for the wiki reference also.

And if we look at NY times:

Quote
Published: October 20, 1993
In a sharp change of tone, President Leonid M. Kravchuk said today that Ukraine may keep some of the nuclear weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union, and he accused the West of not providing enough financial assistance to dismantle the 176 strategic missiles on Ukrainian territory.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE7DA173CF933A15753C1A965958260


Moderator's note:  Thank you for the information Zabikol, and for participating in this thread!