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Vyshyvanka: A Ukrainian tradition preserved through centuries (Photo)

by Irynka Hromotska May 16, 2024 6:33 PM 7 min read
Women in vyshyvankas wear wreaths on their heads during the Kupala Night celebration organized by the Movement for the Support of the Zakarpattia military in Uzhhorod, Zakarpattia Oblast, on July 8, 2022. This photo cannot be distributed in the Russian Federation. (Serhii Hudak/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
by Irynka Hromotska May 16, 2024 6:33 PM 7 min read
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Every year on the third Thursday of May, Ukrainians celebrate Vyshyvanka Day. Vyshyvanka is the Ukrainian word for an embroidered shirt or dress – a central piece to traditional Ukrainian clothing.

Vyshyvanka is traditionally made from linen and embroidered with various symbols unique to each region of Ukraine.

Throughout history, Ukrainians have worn Vyshyvankas for special occasions, such as weddings and various holidays. However, in recent years, embroidered shirts have found renewed popularity among Ukrainians who style them with everyday outfits like jeans and jackets.

Since the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution, also known as the Revolution of Dignity, the popularity of Vyshyvankas has skyrocketed. The following Russian annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine became catalysts for many Ukrainians to look into their roots, traditions, and history. Wearing a Vyshyvanka became a symbol of recognizing and celebrating one's own national identity and establishing a connection with ancestors.

Martusia Dmytrashyna in Ukrainian national clothes, the lettering on the clothes reads "God, save Ukraine" in Skhidnytsia village, Drohobych district, Lviv Oblast, 1918. Photo from Ivan Honchar's artistic historical and ethnographic album "Ukraine and Ukrainians," volume “Galicia: Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Ternopil Regions.” (Ivan Honchar Museum Archive)
An amateur theater group of Bakhmut city that staged a performance based on Taras Shevchenko's play “Nazar Stodolia,” Katerynoslav province, 1911. (State Archival Service of Ukraine)
Mykhailo Teliha (first from right) and Olena Shovgenova (2nd) at Vasyl Avramenko's Ukrainian dance class in Podebrady, Czechoslovakia, 1925. (Kharkiv region Central State Audiovisual and Electronic Archive)
In an undated photograph, two Hutsul men and two Hutsul women in traditional clothes sit together on a bench in Carpatho-Ukraine. (Jar. Novotny/Scheufler Collection/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
Village choir in Ukrainian traditional clothes in Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine, beginning of the 20th century. (Ivan Honchar Museum Archive)

The regions of Vyshyvanka

Typically, Vyshyvankas are made out of linen and embroidered with a combination of six main colors of Ukrainian embroidery: white, black, red, blue, yellow, or green.  The patterns usually differ from region to region, and sometimes – even from village to village.

Embroidered map of Ukraine with the patterns representing different regions of Ukraine. The map was created by Luhansk craftswomen. (Wikimedia)
A group of girls in traditional Ukrainian clothes in Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine, 1938. (Ivan Honchar Museum Archive)
Young Ukrainian women, in traditional clothes, awaiting the arrival of President de Gaulle of France during the third leg of his visit to the Soviet Union, in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 27, 1966. (Agence France Presse/Archive Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A girl in a traditional Ukrainian outfit, vyshyvanka, stands next to the Ukrainian Popular Assembly participants during their rally near the fenced demolition monument of the October Revolution on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sep. 15, 1991. The Ukrainian Popular Assembly (known as Viche) was held in the center of Kyiv in support of the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine from the USSR adopted on Aug. 24, 1991. (Andrii Nesterenko/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
A girl in traditional Ukrainian clothes stays by men in camouflage uniforms during a march on the 29th Independence Day, Kharkiv, Ukraine, Aug. 24, 2020. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Members of a folk choir in traditional Ukrainian costumes sing during the celebration of the Day of the Christianisation of Kyivan Rus at the Kyivan Rus Park, Kopachiv village, Obukhiv district, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine, on July 24, 2021. (Volodymyr Tarasov / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Marian Glushko tattooed a national Ukrainian vyshyvanka symbol on the arm of Roman Sidoriv at the Tattoo Lamarch studio in Lviv, Ukraine, on March 27, 2022. Tattoo artists have seen significant demand from customers for nationalistic tattoos, from the Ukrainian flag to other symbols of Ukrainian pride. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A view of a vyshyvanka pattern during the celebration of Vyshyvanka Day in Lviv, Ukraine, on May 18, 2023. (Pavlo Palamarchuk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Young women in traditional costumes surround the bride as they perform a ritual during the re-enactment of a folk marriage ceremony as part of the Wedding Autumn event at the National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life in Pyrohiv, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine on Sep. 10, 2023. (Volodymyr Tarasov / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Students perform the national anthem during the celebration of the first anniversary of the liberation of Izium city from Russian invaders, Kharkiv Oblast, Sep.10, 2023. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Vyshyvanka, Ukraine’s traditional embroidered shirt
Vyshyvanka, the Ukrainian word for a traditionally styled embroidered shirt or dress, is the central feature of Ukraine’s national clothing. The shirts are traditionally made of linen and the designs are often ornate and colorful and represent features of Ukraine’s landscape or cultural values. In…
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