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Information & Chat About the Former Soviet Union => Russian, Ukrainian & FSU Culture and Customs => Topic started by: mendeleyev on March 25, 2008, 02:28:13 AM

Title: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev 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.

Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev 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
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Jinx on March 25, 2008, 10:14:50 PM

  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:


Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev 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  ( 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!
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev 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

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.


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.


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.

Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on March 26, 2008, 09:14:39 PM
Taken from


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.


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.

Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on March 26, 2008, 09:22:53 PM
Now let's look at Ukrainian culture, again compliments of

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.


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).


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.

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.

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'.


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.

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.


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.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev 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.

Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on April 02, 2008, 12:12:17 AM
Book review:


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.”


(Ukraine's Carpathian mountains in winter.)

Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Cestmoi 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.

Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Cestmoi on April 03, 2008, 02:10:34 AM
I love this song, and the pics selected for song on youtube - they give the essense of Ukraine, at least when i watch them i remember it so well... makes me really nostalgic.. (

this is another song by Kvitka Cisyk: (

another popular ukrainian folk song ( (

and more ( ( ( ( ( (

and not folk, but very popular songs: ( ( (song written on poem by Ukrainian poet Shevchenko) ( ( ( ( (

And national Anthem of Ukraine: (
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev 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. 


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
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Cestmoi 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 ( 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). (

Sarmathians - 300 BC - 400 AD. (

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:
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev 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.


Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev 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:

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 I can look for the wiki reference also.

And if we look at NY times:

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.

Moderator's note:  Thank you for the information Zabikol, and for participating in this thread!
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on May 28, 2008, 11:17:54 PM
Ukraine's currency — the Hryvnia

Ukraine's currency, the "hryvnia" (abbreviation: UAH), is tied to the US dollar.  Bills come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 hryvnias as well as higher values.  UAH coins exist in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 kopecks, as well as a 1 hryvnia coin.


Like the USD, UAH 100 kopecks = 1 hryvnia.  In general bills have a picture of historic persons on the front with famous landmarks and buildings on the reverse.  In 2004 new bills were introduced.

Ukraine's currency has been enviably stable the past five years since being tied to the dollar.  For current exchange rates of dollars or other currencies to the Hryvnia:

Dollars and, increasingly, euros are seen all over. Often dollars or Euros are for savings stashed around the house and for big purchases, while hryvnias are used for day-to-day expenses. Even though inflation has been low for five years, Ukrainians are still mistrustful of their monetary system after banks collapsed in the early 90s and everyone lost their savings. Many people still prefer to stash dollars in hiding places in their apartment rather than deposit them in a bank, even when the savings rate is over 10%.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: bgreed on June 01, 2008, 05:28:58 PM
I'll add something that most may not know about.  Lena and some friends went to this place outside of Kiev.  Seems the government has gone around Ukraine and collected traditional building and have brought them here for preservation.

They have people who are familiar with different folk arts doing demonstrations of musical instrument or even the traditional vodka drinking cup.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Chris on June 02, 2008, 01:21:02 AM

There is also the Museum of Architecture in Chernivsti where they have done the same.





Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Chris on June 02, 2008, 01:23:28 AM
and some more, while I was here they were actually filming for a TV programme, but they wouldn't let me take pictures of them.





Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Chris on June 08, 2008, 03:28:55 AM
I loved my times in Kharkiv, I once had an apartment right across the road from Fortress Cathedral, brings back many memories :)
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Markje on June 08, 2008, 06:06:26 AM
Kharkiv.. Didn't really like my time, but that was probably due to the apartment combined with feeling marooned by a lady who didn't like me all that much.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on June 09, 2008, 02:10:48 AM

[attachimg=1] Soldiers memorial/memory day

[attachimg=2] St Mikhail Cathedral

[attachimg=3] Independence Square

[attachimg=4] St Sophia Square

[attachimg=5] Motherland Statue
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Jinx on June 10, 2008, 10:32:55 PM
 Amazing photo's and great info as usual Mendeleyev...I miss Ukraine  :(  Nataly leaves next week to visit family, I wish I were going too.

 What a beautiful country, Kharkiv looks so cool from above, I had no idea it was a city of many trees. Next time I go I want to visit this city. I fell in love with Kiev when I was there, I didn't want to leave. Like many visitors I said to myself "I could live here"  :)  Nataly doesn't think I could survive the winters though, maybe she's right, but I would like to try.  :-*
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Chris on June 11, 2008, 02:20:46 AM
Amazing photo's and great info as usual Mendeleyev...I miss Ukraine  :(  Nataly leaves next week to visit family, I wish I were going too.

 What a beautiful country, Kharkiv looks so cool from above, I had no idea it was a city of many trees. Next time I go I want to visit this city. I fell in love with Kiev when I was there, I didn't want to leave. Like many visitors I said to myself "I could live here"  :)  Nataly doesn't think I could survive the winters though, maybe she's right, but I would like to try.  :-*

Yes Jinx Kharkov is a green city, like many others in Ukraine, it used to be the Capital city, I loved it there, happy memories of the city indeed. I will have to try and dig out some of my old photos.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on June 12, 2008, 12:36:40 AM
Jinx, you would do fine in winter.  And a Kyiv winter is not as severe as in Moscow and St Petersburg is even more cold.  You should try it!

Chris, yes bring out those photos!

Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on September 28, 2008, 12:14:04 AM
The economy of Ukraine


Ukraine is moving to a market economy where the forces of supply and demand and private ownership guide the allocation of resources. The transition to a market economy is politically and socially difficult because the populace must endure rising inflation, unemployment, and economic uncertainty before it experiences the long-term benefits of a market economy.


Gas pipeline from Ukraine to Europe.

Ukraine mineral resources have played an important role in supporting the Ukraine industrial development and in providing for its energy needs. During the 1980s nuclear power also became a significant source of electrical power, accounting for about 25% of Ukraine's electricity. The accident at the Chernobyl power station in 1986, however, created strong opposition to nuclear power in Ukraine, and efforts are now being made to phase out reliance on nuclear energy.


The major industries are metalworks, machine building, construction, chemicals, food, and light industry. Ukraine is a major producer of steel and iron and had accounted for 33% of Soviet steel and iron production. About one-third of its industrial manufacturing comes from the machine-building sector, which produces tractors, machine tools, and mining equipment. Transportation vehicles manufactured by the Ukraine economy include cars, trucks, buses, railway cars, diesel locomotives, airplanes, and ships.

[attachimg=4] The "Eurocar" is made in Ukraine.

The chief output of the Ukraine chemical industry is fertilizer, while the Ukraine food industry is involved with sugar refining, meat packaging, food canning, and wine production. Among consumer goods produced are television sets, refrigerators, washing machines, and clothes.


Kyiv Metro Map.

Overall, Ukraine has a well-developed and diverse transportation system. Ukraine railroad network is extensive and links major cities with industrial enterprises. Waterways such as the Dnepr River and the Black sea and Azov sea, and their port cities, play an important role in shipping.  The Ukrainian highway system comprises about 147,000 kilometers (91,000 miles) of paved roads. Ukraine subway systems exist in Kiev and Kharkov. There are major airports near Kiev (at Boryspil), Kharkov and Odessa cities.


Grain, sugar beets, coal, construction equipment, and select manufactured goods are Ukraine major exports. The primary Ukraine import items are oil, wood products, rubber, and consumer goods. Some of Ukraine major trading partners are Russia, Poland, USA, Hungary, Germany, France, and Iran. Ukraine is seeking to reduce its economic dependence with Russia.


Once considered to be "the breadbasket of Europe" (prior to Stalinism), during the war Adolph Hitler ordered the German occupying forces to send trainloads of Ukrainian topsoil back to Germany.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: MND on September 28, 2008, 05:17:03 AM
Ukraine's currency — the Hryvnia

Ukraine's currency, the "hryvnia" (abbreviation: UAH), is tied to the US dollar.  Bills come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 hryvnias.  Some higher values exist but are impractical and rarely carried.  (Attachment Link)

The 500 is carried often by people and exchanged easily in Ukriane
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on September 28, 2008, 06:09:02 PM
Government of Ukraine

Today the historic capital of Ukraine is Kyiv although there was a period when the government was based in Kharkiv.  Kyiv was the very first capital of the country we now call "Russia."


The President is Viktor Yushenko.  Ukraine is a Parlimentary democracy with a Prime Minister and a legislature known as the "Rada."  The President of Ukraine (Президент України) is the head of the state of Ukraine and acts in its name. According to the Constitution of Ukraine, the President is the guarantor of the state sovereignty and territorial integrity, the observance of the Constitution of Ukraine and human and civil rights and liberties. The President is elected by the citizens of Ukraine by way of a universal, equal and direct vote for a five-year term.  Currently, the President of Ukraine is Viktor Yushchenko who was sworn in on January 23, 2005.


The Prime Minister of Ukraine, the very popular Yulia Tymoshenko was born on 27 November 1960 in Dnepropetrovsk.
After graduation she joined the economic faculty of Dnepropetrovsk State University to study cybernetic engineering. In 1979, while studying there, she married Oleksandr Tymoshenko and her daughter Evgeniya was born in 1980.

Ms Tymoshenko is a notably attractive lady as well as dynamic person with leadership ability.  She often wears traditional Ukraine costumes, is fluent in Ukrainian, and generally wears her trademark white or cream coloured dresses.  She is so attractive that the Prime Minister's website features no less that 7,224 photos of her!

Mendeleyev was able to find her dressed above in black, a rare departure from the white or cream colours she prefers.  The Prime Minister almost always wears her hair braided in a traditional Ukrainian style when in public view.  But would you like to see Yulia with her hair down?  Come on, you know you would!


Mendeleyev delivers!  And this wasn't found on a government website either. 


The chamber of Parliment, "the Rada." Ukraine comprises 24 regions called oblasts. In addition, the Crimea enjoys a special status as a republic within Ukraine, which grants it a significant amount of economic autonomy. Control of the Crimea is at the center of a political dispute between Ukraine and Russia.


Ukraine is a country of rich culture and customs.  It is a beacon for the fine arts with world-class symphony orchestras, acting, art, theatre and ballet.

The range of Ukraine political parties reflects European traditions. They include the Green party, Republican party, Democratic party, Peasant-Democratic party, Christian-Democratic party, and Socialist party. These parties tend to have small memberships, numbering only several thousand each, which demonstrates the legacy of antiparty feeling following decades of Communist party rule.


The government still has a long way to go in order to address many social ills left over from the slopply Soviet period. Old age pensions average about $55 dollars monthly and Red Army veterans wounded in more modern Soviet campaigns receive next to nothing.


Ukraine has a population of 48 million people and is quickly becoming a desirable tourist market.  The Ukrainian government has started heavily promoting the country as a tourist destination and 23 million people visited the country in 2007.  This number is expected to grow and UEFA’s decision to host the Euro 2012 football tournament has resulted in a bunch of new investments, such as hotels with international names such as Intercontinental, Radisson, and Hilton.


Unlike it's big neighbor to the East/North East, Ukraine has made an effort to be small business friendly.  Corruption does exist but is more actively fought on the government level.  Small markets, farms, restaurants and manufacturing are helping to rebuild Ukraine.


The President's official residence for ceremonial purposes is Mariyinsky Palace. Other official residences include the House with Chimaeras and the House of the Weeping Widow.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on September 28, 2008, 09:58:34 PM
Ukrainian language:

While it's difficult to find a Ukrainian who can't speak Russian, many simply don't want to.  Especially in areas of the West, older Ukrainians have deep hostilities towards Russians for centuries of aggression and domination.

But in the center and East, Russian is freely spoken although Ukrainian is gradually taking over. Except for the autonomous region of Crimea, Ukrainian is the official language.

Practically speaking, one can hear and see Russian and Ukrainian mixed everywhere.  Russia is a big neighbor and many of the radio and television outlets from Russia blanket Ukraine.  Advertising and street signs can be found in either language and the truth is that it will take a long time, if ever, before all street signs, newspapers, magazines and advertising is converted to Ukrainian.

So, isn't Ukrainian just a dialect of Russian?
Not at all.  The two languages share the Cyrillic alphabet, share a lot of words and are very similiar, but they are two different and separate languages.

Ukrainian (украї́нська мо́ва) is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a Cyrillic alphabet. The language shares some vocabulary with the languages of the neighboring Slavic nations, most notably with Polish, Slovak in the West, Belarussian to the North, and Russian in the East.

The Ukrainian language traces its origins to the Old Slavic language of early medieval state of Kievan Rus'.

The Ukrainian alphabet:
А а Б б В в Г г Ґ ґ Д д Е е Є є Ж ж З з И и
І і Ї ї Й й К к Л л М м Н н О о П п Р р С с
Т т У у Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ Ь ь Ю ю Я я

Those who know the Russian Cyrillic will notice 3 letters not present in the Russian language:  Ґ ґ, І і, Ї ї.

Stalin strictly banned the speaking or writing of the Ukrainian language and tried to erase it from the face of the earth.  During the "thaw" after Stalin's death the language enjoyed a resurgence as a second language to a dominate Russian.  The Communists outlawed one letter however, Ґ ґ ("ge"), until Glasnost in 1990.


On this Kyiv Metro sign you may be able to figure out some of the words, but this is in the Ukrainian language and there are significant spelling and even word differences from Russian.


This is a sign from the train station in Kharkov.  Well, Ukrainains would insist that it's Kharkiv.  Look on the sign and find the word for "Kharkiv."

Although close, there is a difference in the sounds.  Notice the difference in the spelling, too:

Ukrainian: Харків  "Khar-kiv"

Russian: Харьков  "Khar-kov"

While we're on this sign, look for the word "Ukraine."  It's sounds slightly different and is spelled differently too:

Ukrainian: Україна  "ooh-kra-YE-nah

Russian: Украина  "ooh-kra-e-nah"

Yes, it's sometimes hard for the untrained ear to distinguish the difference, but keep studying and someday you will.

(Note: What you see on the sign above is України instead of Україна and these involve noun cases so until we cover those in the language thread just roll with the flow.)


Of course the word for Kyiv (see note below) is going to be different also.  This sign above shows the Ukrainian spelling, Київ.

The Russian spelling is: Киев

While we're here on the subject, perhaps this is a good time to make certain you can impress your lady by saying "Kyiv" correctly.  If you do the old (wrong) "key-evh" then we need to practice!  It is pronounced all in one syllable (not two) and the "v" at the end is very, very, very, gentle. 

So let's work on it!   :)  What you wish is to avoid having the "evh" sound like the word 'Evan' when you speak it.  In one smooth syllable you want to say "keyve."  The "ve" is there, but oh, so gentle.  Focus on the "Key" and just let the gentle "ve" quietly slide in at the end.  One smooth syllable.

I think you've got it!


Finally, if you've been practicing reading signs you may recognize many of these cities from this train schedule.  But you'll notice some differences as this is printed in Ukrainian.

Note from the Ukrainian Embassy: Americans tend to spell the name of Ukraine's capital using the Russian language "Kiev." As part of ongoing efforts to shed its Soviet past, the Ukrainian government has made "Kyiv" the official English language spelling for the country's capital. The word "Kyiv" corresponds to the Ukrainian pronunciation of the city's name.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on April 16, 2009, 02:21:56 PM
More history of Ukraine

The following is taken from "Language and Travel Guide to Ukraine," by Linda Hodges.

The adage that history is written by the winners is well-understood by those with roots in Ukraine. Without a Ukrainian state, Ukrainian history was handed down as a footnote, considered no more than a provincial expression of dominant powers. By an extension of a stunted, simplistic logic, without a Ukrainian state, there was no Ukrainian identity. There ceased to be, for most of the world, not only a country with its own history, but a separate and distinct people who shared a unique language and a rich cultural heritage. With the possible exception of the batik Easter eggs, nearly every aspect of Ukrainian history and culture had been attributed to other groups. The mislabeling of things Ukrainian was carried to its logical absurdity in library card catalogs, encyclopedias, and history books. For example, college-level history of civilization textbooks discussed the Kyivan-Rus legacy without once using the word "Ukrainian."

Ukraina means borderland. As a frontierland bridging the East and West, Ukraine was vulnerable to invaders from all sides. Among the early peoples who roamed across the steppes and navigated the Dnipro and Black Sea were Scythians, Greeks, Goths, Huns, and Khazars. After the establishment of the modern state, Ukraine was threatened by the ambitions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Tatar Khanate, and Muscovy. For centuries various parts were under the Russian Empire, Poland, or Austria. The many foreign powers that occupied and ruled Ukraine sometimes enriched the country, but also brought exploitation and devastation.

As a nation that for most of its history was not in charge of its own destiny, Ukraine has over and over again been trapped between two bad choices, forced to choose the lesser of two evils. Ironically, fate has thrust upon Ukraine the opportunity to emerge from the shadows and stand as a free and independent member of the family of nations.

With 233,100 square miles (603,700 sq. km.), Ukraine is the largest country completely in Europe. In size it's slightly bigger than France but smaller than the state of Texas. To the north is Belarus; Russia is to the northeast and east; Moldova and Romania and Hungary are to the south and southwest; Slovakia and Poland border on the west and northwest. The southern border is on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. Ukraine is a relatively modern country with a highly educated population that is two-thirds urbanized. Even so, traditional family values still prevail, including a strong work ethic.

Its population of 50 million is Europe's fifth largest, after Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and France. Ethnically, 73 percent of the population identifies themselves as Ukrainian and 22 percent as Russian, with Ukrainians predominating in the western and central oblasts, and the Russian population in the south and east. Sizable minorities are Jews, Belarusians, Moldovans, Poles, Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, and Tatars. Not surprisingly, the non-Ukrainian population tends to be concentrated around the borders. The country consists primarily of fertile steppeland with a forest-steppe area across the north and low-lying mountains along the western border. The Dnipro River flows down through the center separating the country into east and west regions and has played an active role in the country's development from prehistoric through modern times. Ukraine's rich soil and moderate climate make it ideally suited to agriculture. Its huge coal reserves and deposits of iron and manganese ore have led to heavy industrial development, especially in the eastern part.

Kyiv Rus, the historical ancestor of Ukraine, was established by Vikings and peopled by various Slavic tribes. Kyiv was the center of this powerful princely state that dominated eastern Europe from the 10th through the 13th century. It was a center of trade, Slavic culture, and Byzantine Christianity. Internal dissention weakened the state and it ended with Mongol invasions in the mid-13th century.

Kozak Period. Kozak, often spelled Cossack in English, comes from a Turkish word meaning free man. The term was originally applied to refugees from serfdom and slavery who fled to the borderland that was Ukraine during the 15th to the 18th century. The term later was applied to Ukrainians who went into the steppes to practice various trades and engage in hunting, fishing, beekeeping, and collection of salt. The Kozaks set up democratic military communities and elected their leaders, who were called hetmans. From their island stronghold on the Dnipro, the Kozaks launched attacks against the Turks and Tatars and struggled against the Polish and Russians. Their establishment of an autonomous Ukrainian state is a high point of Ukrainian history.

During the mid-17th century, Poland controlled most of Right Bank Ukraine (lands west of the Dnipro) while Muscovy controlled most of the Left Bank. Ukrainian culture enjoyed a great revival during this period of ambiguous political status. Religious and educational activity flourished and there was a high rate of literacy. By the late 18th century, however, 85 percent of Ukrainian land had fallen under Russian control, and Ukraine's window to the west was closed. It was a time of colonialism and Russification during which Ukrainian culture and language was suppressed.

The 20th century was a time of great turmoil and suffering in Ukraine. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Ukraine was engulfed in a chaotic civil war in which many different factions and foreign powers fought for control. On January 22, 1918 the Ukrainian Central Rada formally proclaimed Ukraine's independence and the next year joined with the Western Ukrainian People's Republic for a united, independent country. Soon, however, the western Ukrainians were defeated by Polish expansionists and Soviet Russian troops seized Kyiv, incorporating much of Ukraine in the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian intelligentsia was forced to either move or perish. In 1932-1933 some four to ten million peasants (according to differing estimates) were starved to death in a deliberately engineered famine designed to force them onto collective farms. During the Second World War, Ukraine bore the brunt of the Nazi drive to Stalingrad and the Red Army counteroffensive. Another 7.5 million people were lost, including almost 4 million civilians killed and 2.2 million taken to Germany as laborers. Cities, towns, and thousands of villages were devastated.

In addition to the excellent work above by Linda Hodges, RUA also recommends study of the material found at this site on Ukrainian History (
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on April 16, 2009, 02:23:44 PM
Ukraine or "the Ukraine"

by Andrew Gregorovich

THE NAME UKRAINE, which first appeared in the historical chronicles in 1187, has been common in the English language for almost 350 years. In the earliest years it appeared without the definite article "the" but in this century the definite article increasingly preceded the name Ukraine.

First of all we might note that the Ukrainian language has no articles so this is not a factor except indirectly. The reason for this is that many Ukrainian immigrant scholars, due to their imperfect knowledge of English, used the form "the Ukraine" in their books thus helping to perpetuate this usage.

Does English grammar require the definite article the before Ukraine? Ukraine is the name of an independent country. There are only two groups of countries which require the article in English: Those with plural names such as the United States or the Netherlands. The others have names with adjectival or compound forms which require the article, such as the United Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada, or the Ukrainian SSR.

English grammar does not require a definite article before the names of singular countries such as England, Canada or Ukraine.

Geographical regions such as the Arctic, the Atlantic, the North, the West, and the prairies all require the definite article, but these are not countries. Since 1917 Ukraine has had very definite borders so it cannot be regarded as merely a region. Some people have mistakenly thought that Ukraine is a general word meaning "the borderland;' "the steppes" or "the prairies;' which would require the article. A few neanderthal writers in the past have even promoted "the Ukraine" to reflect the original meaning "the borderland" in order to diminish the international political stature of Ukraine. They betrayed their ignorance of Ukraine, or their bias against it, with this usage. See for example, the view of Robert 0. Grover in the U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 9, 1991).

Is there any other reason to use the definite article in English with Ukraine? Usage has been suggested as a reason but this cannot be accepted today since the majority of books and newspapers do not use it.

For example, the authoritative five volume Encyclopedia of Ukraine edited by Danylo Struk and published by the University of Toronto Press does not use it. The article is not used by such prominent publications as The Ukrainian Quarterly (New York), Ukrainian Review (London, England), Forum Ukrainian Review (Scranton, Pa.), Ukrainian Voice (Winnipeg), Ukrainian Echo (Toronto), Journal of Ukrainian Studies (Toronto), Ukrainian News (Edmonton) or News From Ukraine (Kiev). In fact, today there is no Ukrainian periodical in English which uses the article although Harvard Ukrainian Studies once forced it on scholarly contributors.

But what about the regular daily press in the USA, Canada and England? Even The New York Times (which once required it in its Style Guide) does not use it now. Neither do The Times (London), The Economist (London), Washington Post, TIME, Newsweek or Maclean's. News services such as Canadian Press, Reuters, CNN and Associated Press do not use the article. When the December 1991 referendum confirmed the independence of Ukraine the White House in Washington, D.C. officially announced that it would discontinue use of the definite article before the name Ukraine.

Even the computer age has ruled that "the" Ukraine is wrong in English. Gram-mat-ik, the very popular grammar and style checker for computers by Reference Software International of San Francisco, uses Ukraine without the article and labels "the Ukraine" as a mistake of grammar.

There appears to be virtually no grammatical or logical reason to use the definite article before the name Ukraine. But it is still encountered occasionally because of habit or because the writer is careless or ignorant about Ukraine. Sir Bernard Pares the eminent English historian of Russia suggested that "the Ukraine" came from French usage. We say Ia France, le Canada and l'Ukraine in French but not 'the France; 'the Canada' or 'the Ukraine' in the English language. The definite article the does not add anything to the meaning or clarity when used before the proper noun Ukraine.

Now, the exception to the rule. Yes, it is possible for "the Ukraine" to be correct in English but it is a very rare usage in apposition to contrast the past with the present. For example, one could correctly say, "The America of George Washington is not the America of Bill Clinton" as well as "The Ukraine of Shevchenko is not the Ukraine of Kravchuk."

We may conclude then, that the use of the definite article in English before the name Ukraine is awkward, incorrect and superfluous. Writers who care about good style in their English grammar and the correctness of their language will always avoid the use of "the Ukraine" and use only the simpler and correct "Ukraine."

-Educated at McMaster University and the University of Toronto, Andrew Gregorovich has been a department head in the University of Toronto Library system for over 30 years. A past Chairman of the Toronto Historical Board, he is a member of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies and is on the Academic Board of the University of Toronto. He is Editor of FORUM Ukrainian Review.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on April 16, 2009, 02:37:37 PM
RUA has excellent companion threads on Ukraine and we highly recommend you also enjoy these:

Western Ukraine--Life and Leisure activities in the Carpathian Mountains (


Western Ukraine--Village and Rural Life (

In these reports RUA moderator Chris, his wife and daughter returned to his wife's home in Ukraine. Taking a camera along with them they photographed their way across Western Ukraine and have shared these photos and their thoughts along the way. It's special on the scene reporting like this that makes RUA so unique among forums!
Title: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 17, 2009, 12:44:05 PM
Kalynivskiy Market

Chernivsti has many markets, but the biggest is by far this one, Kalynivskiy Market it is just outside the city centre on the banks of the River Pruth. It sprang up 20 years ago after many of the Ukrainian factories stopped producing goods during the colapse of the FSU.

When no more goods were coming out of the factories, entrepreneurial Ukrainians started going abroad to places like Turkey and China and bringing goods back home to sell. Many who started off in the early days of the new Ukraine made a lot of money by inflating prices 300, 400 up to 1000%, the general populace had no alternative but to buy, as goods were just not available elsewhere,  and this wealth can be seen in the many big houses that have been built from the procedes around the city and also by the cars they drive.

The nouveau riche love their bling, it is way over the top, I was recently at a birthday celebration meal,  no expense was spared, they all roll up in their Mercedez, Lexus's and so on but the bigget laugh is the amount of bling, gold and such like they wear. The Nouveau riche have no other way to show off their new found wealth, so they go out dressed like Liberace on show night  ;D

Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 18, 2009, 06:13:07 AM
The market sells everything, from a safety pin to designer clothers to wedding dresses, to car parts, tyres, lawn mowers, plumbing equipment, you name it, you can buy it here.

There are thousands of stalls on this one market alone and it is an eye opener to watch woemn trying on clothing out in the open air, right under the noses of other shoppers. General clothing is one thing, but to see fully suited and booted brides trying on wedding outfits and dresses under a temporary tin roof or out in the open is quite another.


Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 18, 2009, 06:23:27 AM
One of the many entrances to the Market


Some of the proper shop units at this market

But most stalls are like these ones

Gents suits for sale
Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 18, 2009, 06:27:05 AM
Anyone for an off the peg wedding outfit  :) try before you buy on the nice gravel carpet  :chuckle:


or buy in relative luxury at one of the covered market halls.


Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 18, 2009, 06:30:40 AM
and you can buy anything else you want here, no matter how obscure.



Door handles

Car tyres

Tools of every description

Bicycles of all shapes and sizes

Thats just a snapshot of Kalynivskiy Market - Chernivsti

Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 19, 2009, 11:28:09 AM
Village Markets are a major attraction to the Carpathians and indeed to most villages throughout Ukraine.  Farmers and villagers alike bring their produce to market to sell. The markets usually take place on a Saturday morning, they start early and finish usually around noon.

In the Carpathians, many of the products sold at markets are made from the forests in the region. There are a lot of hardwoods in this area and also Juniper is a very popular material for wooden carved products and the like.

This picture is of a very modern style market, most are no where near this clean and tidy, see my other pictures below for examples.

Notice in this picture the donations/collection box in the foreground, this would be left there all day with no fear of someone stealing it.

Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 19, 2009, 11:32:19 AM
Market in Kosiv

Pictures of Market Kosiv - high in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains.



Traditional Ukrainian costume





Wooden cup and pot stands, made from Juniper wood.

Fruit, twigs and leaves carved from wood


Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 19, 2009, 11:35:29 AM
Pysanka, Easter eggs made from wood and decorated


Wooden bottles

Hand made dresses

Entrepreneurial :) selling home made ladders on the roadside, health and safety in the UK would have a field day at this place  :chuckle:


Traffic on Market Days


As you can see, market days means small towns and villages become a hive of activity and regularly double in size as people come from all over the region to sell their produce and buy necessities.
Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: mendeleyev on April 19, 2009, 01:07:16 PM
Great photos and reporting, Chris!

One of the things which your photos illustrate is that Ukrainians and Russians are satisfied shopping in conditions which in the West would be considered less than "ideal" for spoiled consumers. Many of these outdoor, even if somewhat covered, markets are near a train or a Metro station which is great for generating foot traffic. In this environment however the temperatures in summer can soar and then in winter plummet, yet what seems important to an FSU shopper is accessibility and availability. And those two things often trump comfort.

My wife and I were talking about this subject sometime ago and her comment was along the lines of 'but you've never had to stand in line for shoes or bread, and you don't know what its like for stores to have empty shelves.' The very availablity of so many things as demonstrated in these photos, represent a significant improvement in lifestyle from just 2-3 decades ago.

The accessibility of shops so near public transportation has also made a dramatic improvement to living standards in a region where so many rely on public transport daily.
Title: Re: Ukrainian Markets - Village, Farmers and City
Post by: Chris on April 20, 2009, 01:46:43 AM
Great photos and reporting, Chris!

One of the things which your photos illustrate is that Ukrainians and Russians are satisfied shopping in conditions which in the West would be considered less than "ideal" for spoiled consumers. Many of these outdoor, even if somewhat covered, markets are near a train or a Metro station which is great for generating foot traffic. In this environment however the temperatures in summer can soar and then in winter plummet, yet what seems important to an FSU shopper is accessibility and availability. And those two things often trump comfort.

Yes they are quite happy shopping in most conditions that we wouldn't even look twice at. This market however is on the banks of the River Pruth, last year with the floods it was all under 4ft of water, but it now back to normal, it didn't take long, it is amazing how quickly they can do things when they really want too.

There is not carparking at all in the vicinity, so everyone goes to and from via dozens and dozens of bussess and taxi buses that are all over the place.

Quote from: Mendy
My wife and I were talking about this subject sometime ago and her comment was along the lines of 'but you've never had to stand in line for shoes or bread, and you don't know what its like for stores to have empty shelves.' The very availablity of so many things as demonstrated in these photos, represent a significant improvement in lifestyle from just 2-3 decades ago.

The accessibility of shops so near public transportation has also made a dramatic improvement to living standards in a region where so many rely on public transport daily.

I agree, we never had those problems of waiting in line, so it is hard for us to comprehend how bad it was. Now there is an abundance of goods at places like this and prices are good too, so it is a win win situation for the locals.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Excedryn on April 26, 2009, 02:16:26 PM
I love this song, and the pics selected for song on youtube - they give the essense of Ukraine, at least when i watch them i remember it so well... makes me really nostalgic.. (
I absolutely got immersed in this. Very moving, if you get into things like this and as a musician myself I was quite captivated with the flowing movement of the piece in its entirety. Simply beautiful.

I watched every link presented in the post and while some links were pulled by the author I appreciated every one of them.

Thanks for sharing those.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Ste on June 26, 2009, 04:51:54 AM
We say Argentina and The Argentine - another oddness...
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Ste on June 27, 2009, 06:06:17 AM
Ukraine or "the Ukraine"

We may conclude then, that the use of the definite article in English before the name Ukraine is awkward, incorrect and superfluous. Writers who care about good style in their English grammar and the correctness of their language will always avoid the use of "the Ukraine" and use only the simpler and correct "Ukraine."

Nadia just explained this to me - bear with me I might have forgotten bits!

The word 'Ukraina' comes from the Russian verb (which I forgot - kriy, I think) which means or meant 'edge' cos Ukraine was on the edge of Russia.

Normally, she tells me you would say 'poekhat v rossiye' 'poezhat v germaniye' but for Ukraine you'd say 'poekhat NA ukrainye' - ie treated differently and the use of 'na' instead of 'v' implies a more definite, err definition.

Apparently the Yukes have changed the language here insisting on 'v ukrainye'.

Does that makes sense?

Also there is;

The Netherlands
The Philippines
The Sudan
The Lebanon

and I think 'die Sweiß' in German (for Switzerland).....
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on June 27, 2009, 06:59:33 AM
More closely represents "border" but inclusive as part of something. Ukraine was it's own entity before being swallowed by Russia and is now independent again. Therefore it is not inclusive or part of Russia. It cannot be Russia's borderland any more than Belarus which also borders Russia can be "The" Belarus or Georgia "The" Georgia simply because they border Russia.

The Netherlands is called such because it is a kingdom which covers more than European Holland and extends to the Antilles for example. The Phillipines is a series of thousands of Islands. I've not heard of "The" being attached to Lebanon.

Officially Ukraine has taken great constitutional pains to rid itself of the idea of being a territory of Russia. The official name is one simple word: Ukraine.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Ste on June 27, 2009, 09:31:40 AM
More closely represents "border" but inclusive as part of something. Ukraine was it's own entity before being swallowed by Russia and is now independent again. Therefore it is not inclusive or part of Russia. It cannot be Russia's borderland any more than Belarus which also borders Russia can be "The" Belarus or Georgia "The" Georgia simply because they border Russia.

The Netherlands is called such because it is a kingdom which covers more than European Holland and extends to the Antilles for example. The Phillipines is a series of thousands of Islands. I've not heard of "The" being attached to Lebanon.

Officially Ukraine has taken great constitutional pains to rid itself of the idea of being a territory of Russia. The official name is one simple word: Ukraine.

Yes but Belarussia and Georgia as proper nouns have no other (in this context) meaning as the word Ukraine semantically does/did.

Nabbed this from the internet which confirm what Nadia told me;

"Preposition usage in Ukrainian, Russian and other Slavic languages

In the Ukrainian language, there was a change in the way of saying "in Ukraine" following the country's independence. Traditional usage is na Ukrajini (with the preposition na, "on"), but recently Ukrainian authorities have begun using v Ukrajini (with the preposition v, "in", which is also used with most other country names). Meanwhile usage in Russian varies. Russian-language media in Ukraine are increasingly using the parallel form v Ukraine. However, the media in Russia continue to use the standard na Ukraine. Note that the preposition na is also used for some regions of Russia as well as with Rus, the historical homeland of Eastern Slavs (na Rusi).
The preposition na continues to be used with Ukraine (and with Rus') in other Slavic languages, including Polish, Czech and Slovak. This is a usage typically found with lands that have not always been considered distinct political entities (for example, Polish also uses na with its names for Hungary and Lithuania)."

'The Lebanon' - big hit by the Human League. Agreed tho - named after the Mountain Range.

The Gongo
The Gambia


Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on June 27, 2009, 12:21:09 PM
Context is exactly the issue, agree. That is why in Russian usage (context) "the" Ukraine was a designation of territory of Russia, as it's "edge or border."

Its also part of a context in which many Russians feel anger that Ukrainians no longer wish to be treated as step children by their larger brother (really their younger but larger child). They love to remind the Cossacks of that power by continuing to use language which is offensive to Ukrainians. I have members of my family who feel this way.

That is obviously not the case any longer and the Parliment of Ukraine has gone to great pains to make it clear that the name of the country is one word: Ukraine. They are no longer a part of Russia and do not wish to have "the" attached to their name.  :)
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on June 28, 2009, 01:17:43 AM
Vadim Urasov has written some "How to know if you are Ukrainian" tests:

You live in a bilingual society. You are as likely to have Russian as a native language as you are to have Ukrainian. Usually, though, you consider both to be your native language.

More people in the world have heard of your country in connection with the Chernobyl nuclear accident than anything else.

If you're young, you're probably familiar with popular culture figures and pop groups such as Ruslana, Les Podervyansky, Tartak, Vopli Vidoplyasova, Okean Elzy, Skryabin, Green Gray. If you live in Kiev, you've probably seen some of them in bars around town, too.

You've probably heard Les Podervyansky's obscene plays and find them quite funny, but you've not seen the pictures he paints.

If you're older, you are probably better familiar with the likes of Sofia Rotaru, Mykola Gnatyuk, Nazariy Yaremchuck and (oh-my-god) Verka Serdyuchka.

You are very familiar with the entire Soviet cultural heritage-- movies, cartoons, books-- and still love them nostalgically. You take particular pride in the excellent cartoons made by the KievNauchFilm studio, such as “Captain Vrungel”, “The Treasure Island”, and “The Cossacks” cartoon series.

You know what KVN means. If you graduated from a higher education institution, it is likely that you played in a KVN team yourself or had friends that did.

You are still culturally very connected to Russia. Most of the trashy pop and witless comedians you know originate from Russia. Okay, some of those comedians aren't that bad after all, particularly Mikhail Zhvanetsky who is in fact Ukrainian.

If you're male, you're very likely to be a football fan. (The word ‘soccer’ doesn’t mean anything to you... who would call football ‘soccer’ anyway?) You support Shakhtar Donetsk if you’re from the Donetsk region, and Dynamo Kiev if you’re from any other part of the country.

You also follow Italian football because Andriy Shevchenko plays in Milan. You think Shevchenko is the most famous Ukrainian in the world, and you’re probably right. (Incidentally, your national poet from the 19th century had the same surname.)

You are generally familiar with basketball and volleyball and maybe even played them at school. Baseball, cricket and American football are strange sports played by those strange foreigners.

Another sport that exists for you is boxing, at least since the Klitchko brothers hit the big time.

You expect to have one full month of holiday every year. You rarely use it, though. For holiday, you normally go to the Crimea and complain about how awful the service is, how high the prices are, and how full of Russians it is. If you’re richer, you go to Turkey, Egypt or Greece.

You live in a country where there are three Orthodox Churches and two Catholic Churches. You’re not sure about the real differences between them. You go to whichever church happens to be closer to your home once a year for Easter. That is unless you are a Crimean Tatar, in which case you’re Muslim.

You’re not really sure if God exists, but wear a crucifix just in case. Most likely, you regard Protestants with suspicion, unless you are one.

Food is very important to you. You spend a fair share of your income on food. Of course you eat at a table, sitting on chairs or benches.

You don’t consider insects, lizards, dogs, cats, monkeys, horses, frogs, snails or snakes to be food.

You like pork fat. Salted, smoked, peppered or spiced. No, you seriously like pork fat. You know that the Russians make fun of you because of this, but you still like pork fat.

You wonder what life would be like if McDonald's served pork fat?

You live in a country where pork is more expensive than veal.

You think that fast food like McDonald’s isn’t all that cheap (and you’ve never seen a Burger King or a KFC). You prefer local fast-food chains-- they’re much better because they serve ‘normal’ (i.e. Ukrainian) food instead of burgers.

In most cases you eat at home. Your wife/sister/mother is probably a good cook. Not as good as your granny, though.

You are convinced that Russians can’t cook.

Yoghurt is still a fairly exotic food; it’s widely available but not everybody buys it. Sour cream is a lot more popular and usually comes in plastic bowls.

You can take pride in being probably the only country in the world that has a word for vodka other than ‘vodka’-- you call it horilka. Naturally, Ukrainian horilka is the best vodka in the world.

You don’t have much taste for wine, but consume a fair amount of beer, particularly if you’re a student. The only beer worth drinking is Ukrainian. Okay, some German types are drinkable, but they’re quite expensive.

How do you confuse a Moldavian?

You don’t know how many political parties are active in your country, nor do you care. Unless you’re an aging Communist or a hard-line nationalist, you vote for leaders, not parties, and you choose them on a ‘lesser evil’ basis.

You feel strangely different from Russians when at home or in Russia, and strangely similar to them when in any other country.

Even if you speak Russian all your life, you still have a Ukrainian accent.

You easily spot Russians by their ugly accent, too.

You use the word ‘black’ (chorny) to describe people from the Caucasus.

You use the word ‘Negro’ to describe people with black skin, although you don’t get to see too many of these, only some foreign students.

You think Russians are thieves and drunkards, Jews greedy, Poles snobbish, Byelorussians inferior, and you tell jokes about Moldavians. At the same time, you have acquaintances, friends, or even relatives from these nationalities.

You have no trust in the court system whatsoever. You’re sure courts and judges are bought and sold just like anything else.

You probably studied some English at school or university, but saying anything more elaborate than “My name is Vova” is most likely beyond you.

You think that 13% income tax is too high, so you don’t pay any tax at all if you can get away with it.

State school is free but paid private schools are better.

In theory, you can still go to university for free. In practice, that’s less and less likely.

You use the day.month.year format: 24.08.1991. (You must know what happened on that date)

You measure things in metres, grams, and litres. Temperatures are measured in Celsius degrees. Pounds, feet, gallons and Fahrenheit degrees mean absolutely nothing to you.

The decimal point is the comma.

You expect to marry for love, but you’re used to seeing people marrying for money. You get married in the civil registrar’s office. A church marriage isn’t legally valid. It isn’t necessary to marry in church, but most people still do it, on the same day as their legal marriage.

If a man has sex with another man, he’s a homosexual. As long as he keeps it private, he’ll be fine.

Once introduced to someone your age or younger, you can usually call them by their first name. You normally address people over your age and your superiors by their first name and patronymic.

You’re most likely not a farmer, but chances are high that your parents or grandparents were born in the countryside and you still have relatives there, whom you occasionally visit.

If you’re a young woman from a big city, you have most likely sunbathed topless at least once.

On television and in cinemas, foreign films are dubbed. That clearly doesn’t apply to Russian films and TV shows, which are subtitled (which isn’t really necessary).

You haven’t seen a Ukrainian movie in a very long time. If you have, then you haven’t seen a decent Ukrainian movie in a very long time.

You can’t seriously expect to be able to transact business, or deal with officials, without paying bribes. Having friends in the right places or drinking with the right people would help enormously.

If a politician has been cheating on his wife, that’s got nothing to do with his ability to govern.
If you live in the city, just about any big store will take your credit card, although few people bother to get one.

Open-air markets are about as popular for shopping as supermarkets and malls. This applies not only to food, but also to clothes, books, home appliances and a lot of other stuff.

If you buy a CD, there is about 90% probability that it’s a pirated one. Some licensed CDs that are reasonably priced have finally appeared, though.

A company can fire just about anybody it wants. Trade unions existed in Soviet times, but you don’t hear much about them any more.

Can I get the whole Whitweek off?

Labour Day is May 1st. You remember a time when it was called The Day of Solidarity of All Working People. May 2nd is a holiday, too, as well as May 9th, as a consequence of which many businesses are shut for the first ten days of May altogether.

You have several new holidays-- Easter, Whitsunday, Constitution Day and Independence Day-- and you are not sure exactly when they are.

You’re not going to die of cholera or other Third World diseases. But unless you can afford expensive private medical insurance, you don’t want to get ill, because that would mean spending long hours in hospital corridors waiting for a physician who will not appear until next month.

You don’t expect your military to fight wars or get involved in politics. What you do expect the military to do, though, is to get their act together: look after their ammunition warehouses properly and stop practices such as shooting down civilian airplanes, aiming missiles at residential buildings and dropping fighter planes into the crowd at air shows.

You don’t really care very much about what family someone comes from, unless you’re Jewish.

Opera and ballet are rather elite entertainments. It’s likely you don’t see that many plays, either.

Christmases are in the winter of course. There is the Catholic Christmas on 25th December and the Orthodox one on 7th January, with New Year’s Eve in between. Many people celebrate all three. As a result, many businesses are shut for the whole period. You’ll have a New Years tree and exchange gifts on January first.

You don’t really understand the concept of “social security” because there isn’t any worth mentioning.

You’re not allowed to drink and drive. Not even a sip of beer.

Taxi cabs are operated by locals who know the streets reasonably well and will complain about the city being overrun by village folk. To get a taxi ride, you don’t need to look for a particular type of car-- whatever your sex, stand on the curb with a hand raised, and every other car will stop offering you a lift (often cheaper than official taxis).

It’s not polite to show up at someone’s place unannounced, but still acceptable among some people. If you do get unexpected guests, you’re likely to find a bottle of horilka in your fridge to serve them a couple of shots.

You have to obtain a passport once you’re over 16 year of age. You have to get a separate one if you want to travel abroad.

You studied Russian history and some Ukrainian history. The history of the rest of the world is pretty obscure. Your Ukrainian history was presented to you as a story of a long battle for unification with Russia. Now you’re told it was the other way round.

You still argue with Russians over the heritage of Kievan Rus. They claim it’s theirs or shared, whilst you claim it’s exclusively yours.
If the Russians want to piss you off, they call you Polonised Russians, whilst you know that Russians are not even a Slavic nation at all, they are savage Finns from the northern forests.

Your country has been conquered by wave after wave of invaders throughout its history. Tatars, Lithuanians, Poles, Hungarians, Austrians, Swedes, Turks, Russians, Germans-- they’ve all been here.

All your neighbours (with the potential exception of Byelorussians) think they’re entitled to some or even all of your territory. At the same time, you may think that some of Russia, some of Poland and all of Byelorussia should be annexed to Ukraine.

You can take rightful pride in your Cossack past and the heroic struggles against the Turks and Tatars. Plundering Moldavia on a regular basis was far less heroic and therefore less known.

Your history is one of uprisings, during which you allied with one conqueror against another as a matter of course. As a result, most of your neighbours believe that you betrayed them at one time or another.

You’re still not sure whether Ivan Mazepa was a traitor or the greatest Ukrainian patriot of all time. Same story with Bogdan Khmelnitsky.

Russia still tries to pretend it’s your best friend. Its most friendly act of all was wiping out a quarter of Ukraine’s population in the 1930s in artificial famine.

World War II was a total disaster-- Ukrainians fought on both sides and are still divided over it. The country was reduced to ruins and a civil guerrilla war lasted far into the 1950s. The positive outcome, however, was unification of all Ukrainians within the same state, for the first time in history.

You can be proud that your nation contributed greatly to the creation of the Soviet Union, one of the two greatest powers of the 20th century. You can also be proud that your nation (and possibly you personally) contributed greatly to the dismantling of the Soviet Union.

Generations of your ancestors fought for independence and were always defeated. Your generation did not really fight for independence yet won it.

You have a wide variety of choices for almost anything you want to buy-- if you can afford it, of course.

You own a telephone, a TV and a VCR. Those who have cars are considered better-off.

You’ve most likely got a mobile phone, but you haven’t had it for very long. All mobile communication providers are private.

You don’t have a dirt floor. Your house is under-heated in the winter, and you’re used to it. Air conditioners only exist in offices and big shops.
You don’t want to retire because the pension is so scanty you can’t live off it.

You think real estate prices are far beyond the reach of normal people, especially in Kiev, so you have to rent your accommodation unless you inherited or privatised it.

The bathroom is the room where the bathtub is. The washing machine is often in there too, but the toilet may be in a separate room.

Steel mills, chemical plants and other big factories in your country are now privately owned by the people you call ‘oligarchs’. Sometimes, oligarchs fight each other over some big piece of property, but you don’t really care, unless you’re a journalist, a politician or a politically-obsessed pensioner. In the latter case you believe all businessmen are crooks and must be jailed or shot.

You think the government at all levels in your country is corrupt and you’re pretty much right.

Dangerous parts of town include the crosswalks.

You generally expect that the phones will work, but you’re not surprised if they don’t. Getting a new phone for your apartment could be long and tedious.
Unless you’re a lucky car owner, trains are the only practically affordable means of long-distance travel. Trains are normally old, slow, dirty and generally ugly. You only fly within the country if somebody else is paying.

Trains, land telephones, municipal services and city transport are state-run. And that is why telephones don’t always work, the electricity goes out, the house is under-heated, trolleys (although cheap) can barely move, and trains are a mess. There are, however, some private phone providers and transport companies.

Show business in your country is not so much a means of making money as a means of wasting it. The pop scene is full of stupid long-legged scantily-clad daughters, wives and mistresses of rich people, who pay for their videos and releases that nobody else cares about.

You drive on the right-hand side of the road. If you’re in Kiev, you also drive on sidewalks, lawns, and wherever else you car will go.

You stop at red lights if there are people around. The time lapse between the appearance of yellow light and the honk of the car behind you is about 0.01 sec.

If you’re a pedestrian, you fear greatly for your life, but would still cross the street anywhere you please, whether the light is green or not.

You consider the Volkswagen Beetle to be an expensive little car for snobs.

The people’s car in your country is called the Tavria. City centres, however, are full of Hummers, BMWs and Mercedes.

The police are normally armed with truncheons and pistols only. Some task-force units have submachine guns, though.

Women are expected to be stunningly beautiful, and they surely are. Once you’ve married one, though, she will eventually grow plumper.

The biggest meal of the day is usually at lunchtime, although it’s becoming harder and harder to follow this habit.

If you put your wealth on display, you definitely want to avoid some parts of the city at night. Or you may even get in trouble in the centre, for that matter.

You feel that your kind of people aren’t being listened to enough in Kiev, even if you are in Kiev.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on July 09, 2012, 09:27:58 PM
When you have very cold winter temperatures, unless your home is in a city with central steam heat boilers every few blocks to pipe in some warmth, one needs a very large firewood supply.

Firewood stacks.

Scenes like these are common in the countryside as farms and villagers stock up wood which will be needed in the coming winter months for heating and cooking.

Orthodox nuns stacking firewood.

Monasteries and Convents often provide their own winter heat fuel by gathering and cutting wood from nearby forests.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: JayH on July 09, 2012, 10:02:09 PM
Love all your work-- but Post #48 takes the cake !! Very funny-- well-- sort of funny!
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Halo on November 12, 2012, 02:17:28 AM
in the way of saying "in Ukraine" following the country's independence. Traditional usage is na Ukrajini (with the preposition na, "on"), but recently Ukrainian authorities have begun using v Ukrajini (with the preposition v, "in", which is also used with most other country names).

I always heard "v Ukraini" among the diaspora and it is common in literature.  "Na Ukraini" is a "Sovietization".

Gogol used "v"

Порядку нет в Украйне: полковники и есаулы грызутся, как собаки, между собою

as did Ukraine's most famous literary figure, Taras Shevchenko -

І мертвим, і живим,
і ненарожденним землякам моїм
в Украйні і не в Украйні
моє дружнєє посланіє
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on March 22, 2014, 01:06:42 PM
Halo, I think you are correct.

It is easy to assume that Russian grammar rules can be easily transferred other Cyrillic based languages and as you point out that is not always correct.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on March 22, 2014, 01:15:30 PM
Many of us are familiar with the "What's On" magazines found in tourist locations like hotel rooms in major cities around the world. Count one casualty of the Maidan events as the Kyiv magazine is shutting down, at least temporarily. We hope that PAN publishing will have the opportunity to regroup and survive but given the realities of adverting in that environment we suspect as mentioned in the attached letter that the group may have to consider the sale of franchise rights at some point. We hope for the best and for their future in serving Kyiv.

Here is a statement from the management group:


Dear readers, advertisers, partners, and friends,

These last few months have been extremely difficult on many levels. Throughout this, we at What’s On have done our best to keep people informed and analyse what has been happening while at the same time deliver for you, every week, what is the Kyiv community’s magazine. However, one way in which things have been extremely difficult of late is in the business environment, and this is a reality no one can ignore.

Over the last few months, as things have worsened, so have our revenues due to losses in advertising. It is for this reason we have to announce that this issue of What’s On is going to be the last, for what we hope is a short while. We want to stress, we are not closing. We have always firmly believed in What’s On’s importance to the community, and after a brief pause we intend to bring What’s On back to continue being the publication that the people of Kyiv have loved reading for 16 years.

During this pause we will be communicating with you all, to find out what kind of What’s On you want to see when we return. What have we done wrong? What have we done right? Why is What’s On important to you? Please let us know by e-mail (write to – we promise to read and consider every one of your comments and take them on board as we plan to come back. Importantly, we will be communicating with those who in fact pay for the magazine, the advertisers, to find out what they want and need from us too.

PAN Publishing has owned What’s On for the last five and a half years, and it truly has been an honour and a pleasure. We look forward to when we can bring your magazine back to you. That said, should someone else decide that they would like to purchase the title from us, take it forward in their own direction, and have the pleasure of owning this title, we are prepared to listen to sensible offers. You can use the same e-mail address to contact us on this question.

It’s time for a new direction, whether that’s with What’s On under our ownership or otherwise. It’s time for a new direction for Ukraine. We see great things ahead now, a brief pause to take stock of our surroundings is necessary, to analyse our situation, to see what people want, and to act on that, delivering something even better for What’s On, for Ukraine, for everyone.

Slava. Slava. Slava.

Paul, Neil and Lana
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Net_Lenka on March 22, 2014, 02:58:55 PM
I am not too big specialist in Ukraina language but is not the Ukraina would be(was)  "Вкраїні" which makes just impossible to use "V" ( instead of "na") in combination with  "Vkraini"

So here is  Shevchenko

Як умру, то поховайте
Мене на могилі
Серед степу широкого
На Вкраїні милій,

folk stuff i guess

Бо я родилась на Вкраїні,
Де сонце золоте.
Бо я родилась на Вкраїні,
Де небо голубе.


here is too old songs to be "sovietized"

Було колись — на Вкраїні
Ревіли гармати;
Було колись — запорожці
 Вміли пановати.

На Вкраїні сурми грають,
Нас до бою закликають.
Встань, Тарасе, встань, Богдане,
Повставайте, всі гетьмани.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Halo on March 22, 2014, 04:34:51 PM
"на Вкраїні" in this sense means in "the country", not "in Ukraine".  "na Ukraini" is, and always has been, a colloquialism.

"v Ukraini" means "in Ukraine", and always has.  But, the better half says the change mendy referred to came about because of criminal slang.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: GuppyCaptain on March 22, 2014, 07:29:36 PM
 What a great post. Spasibo. I can totally relate to the pig fat thing. It's kind of a big deal in the Hungarian and Romanian culture as well. Mmmmmm. Delicious. However, I'm surprised to read that Russians apparently look down on Ukrainians for eating it.

My Russian friend goes gaga over salo. We had a nice hike this winter and cooked it over an open fire. It was  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Millaa on March 22, 2014, 08:12:46 PM
Как говорила по-русски "На Украине", так и буду  ;D. Кстати, Шевченко тоже русскую орфографию соблюдал и писал с ятями, потом этого классика украинской литературы кому-то сильно украинизировать пришлось.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: mendeleyev on March 22, 2014, 08:23:56 PM
I respect "the Russia's" right not to be called Mother Ukraine's borderland. Of course I also respect "the Leningrad's" right not be to considered as southern Sweden. Frankly, even though "the Russia" is a nice little suburb of Lithuania and Poland, people should give "the Russia " more respect.

Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Net_Lenka on March 22, 2014, 09:29:39 PM
"на Вкраїні" in this sense means in "the country", not "in Ukraine".  "na Ukraini" is, and always has been, a colloquialism.

"v Ukraini" means "in Ukraine", and always has.  But, the better half says the change mendy referred to came about because of criminal slang.
Ah I got - it was because it was always just "country" not the state
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: Halo on March 22, 2014, 11:06:28 PM
Как говорила по-русски "На Украине", так и буду  ;D.

I'm not advocating one use or another.  Languages are fluid, and change over time.

Кстати, Шевченко тоже русскую орфографию соблюдал и писал с ятями, потом этого классика украинской литературы кому-то сильно украинизировать пришлось.

Shevchenko wrote poetry using Latin script, he wrote poetry using Cyrillic script, he wrote poetry in Russian, as most of the artists in his circle were Russians, and he wrote poetry in his Cherkasky dialect.  At that time, there was no standardized Ukrainian alphabet, so his writing, in some sense, was experimental.   In addition to being a great poet, it is his works, in particular, that created Ukrainian literature (note - it existed before, but it moved leaps and bounds because of Shevchenko).

Late in his life, Shevchenko became enamoured with a decades younger peasant girl.  It did not have a happy ending.
Title: Re: Ukrainian culture
Post by: DanielLee5 on July 01, 2017, 11:45:39 PM
So many stunning pics here, I feel so nostalgic
Thanks, guys