Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ukraine: Ukrainian lady wearing vyshyvanka with a wreath, 1916

The Ukrainian wreath (Ukrainian: vinok) is a type of wreath which, in traditional Ukrainian culture, is worn by maidens, i.e., virgins, eligible for marriage. The vinok had significant symbolic value and only specific flowers were used. The flowers used to make the wreath were generally fresh, paper or waxen and were attached onto a b...and of stiff paper backing covered with a ribbon. The wreath varied in many of the regions of Ukraine; young women throughout the country wore various headdresses of yarn, ribbon, coins, feathers and grasses, but these all had the same symbolic meaning. During the Ukrainian wedding ceremony, the vinok was replaced by the ochipok, a cap that she would wear for the rest of her life.
The wreath may be part of a tradition dating back to the old East Slavic customs. In pre-Christian times, it was believed that a vinok protected girls from the evil spirits and the evil eye. The custom of plaiting and wearing wreath was common among all Aryan cultures, as well as among the Semitic peoples. The ancient Greeks believed that the wreath was a messenger of success, carrying its message ahead to the gods. The flower wreath (sometimes embroidered into fabric of headdress) remains a part of the Ukrainian national attire, and is worn on festive occasions and on holy days.

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