Explain Ukraine 11:18 16 Июн 2023

Ten national symbols of Ukraine

Ukraine has a rich and diverse culture, reflected in its many symbols. These symbols represent the country's history, traditions, and aspirations. Rubryka lists Ukraine's ten most recognized symbols: encrypted charms in national clothing, the mellow sounds of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains, and the perfection of decorative art.

1️⃣ Ukraine's flag

national symbols of Ukraine

The blue and yellow colors represent the sky and wheat fields. The flag was first used in the late 19th century by Ukrainian nationalist organizations and was officially adopted as the national flag in 1991, following Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union. Now it is the state's pride during the full-scale war. The flag is now interpreted as the symbol of resilience and freedom. You can find more about the Ukrainian flag in our explainer here.

2️⃣ The coat of arms

national symbols of Ukraine

The trident, also called tryzub, is an ancient Slavic symbol associated with Ukraine for centuries, representing the nation's strength and independence. It has been used as a symbol of Ukraine since the 9th century and has played an important role in the country's history and mythology. The shield's blue background represents the sky and the rivers of Ukraine, while the golden wheat ears symbolize the nation's agricultural heritage.

3️⃣ Vyshyvanka – national embroidered shirt

national symbols of Ukraine

The word «vyshyvanka» comes from the Ukrainian word «vyshyvka,» which means «embroidery.» The shirt features intricate and colorful patterns, depending on Ukraine's region and the occasion for which it is worn. Being an important cultural heritage, Ukrainians wear it for weddings and festivals. Vyshyvanka has become a popular fashion trend in recent years, both in Ukraine and internationally. Read more about it here.

4️⃣ Trembita – the longest musical instrument in the world

national symbols of Ukraine

Trembita is a long natural trumpet made of a single piece of wood, often from a spruce tree, decorated with various patterns and symbols. It is typically around 2–3 meters long, with a conical bore and a flared bell at the end. Trembita has been used by Ukrainian shepherds for centuries to communicate over long distances in the Carpathian Mountains. The instrument produces a unique, haunting sound characterized by its deep, low tones and ability to carry over long distances. Today, trembita is still used in some parts of Ukraine as a musical instrument, often in folk ensembles or as a solo instrument.

5️⃣ Sunflower

national symbols of Ukraine

The flower symbolizes Ukraine's rich agricultural heritage, cultural traditions, and spirit of resilience. Sunflower is associated with its vast cultivation across Ukraine's fertile farmlands, as the country is one of the world's largest producers of sunflower seeds and oil. The flower is also reflected in traditional folk art and embroidery and is even featured on the country's coat of arms. The plant is a popular subject for Ukrainian poets and writers, who often use it to embody beauty, strength, and prosperity.

6️⃣ Pysanka – Easter egg

Pysanky and Krashanky

One of Ukraine's most beloved non-official symbols is the pysanka, or traditional Ukrainian Easter egg. Depending on the region, pysanky are intricately decorated with colorful patterns and symbols. They are believed to have special powers of protection and fertility. Ukrainians often exchange pysanky with friends and family during Easter celebrations. The art of pysankarstvo (Easter egg decoration) is still passed down from generation to generation. You can find out about Ukrainian Easter traditions here.

7️⃣ Bison

national symbols of Ukraine

The bison has been an important part of Ukrainian culture and folklore for centuries. In Ukrainian mythology, the bison resembles strength and power. The animal is the country's natural heritage and beauty. By the mid-20th century, the bison was on the brink of extinction in Ukraine. However, efforts to reintroduce the bison have been successful. Today, there are several protected areas where it can be found, including the Carpathian Mountains and the Prykarpattia National Park.

8️⃣ Hopak – the traditional dance

Hopak – the traditional dance

The hopak is a high-energy dance that involves fast footwork, acrobatics, and complex choreography. Ukrainians usually perform it at weddings and other celebrations. It symbolizes Ukraine's identity and pride. The hopak has a long history, dating back to at least the 16th century, when Ukrainian mercenaries, Cossacks, put their effort into improving the movements. The hopak is typically performed to music played on traditional Ukrainian instruments such as the bandura, a type of lute, or the accordion.

9️⃣ Petrykivka

Мистецька організація UAmaze

Petrykivka is a traditional decorative painting that involves painting floral and geometric designs using a special brush called a «kystka» and natural plant-based pigments on various surfaces. The art is marked by its use of bright colors, intricate patterns, and unique brushwork techniques, creating a three-dimensional effect on the surface. UNESCO included the art in its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. Read more about how Ukrainians revive their traditional art here.

🔟 Korovai – a wedding bread

Korovai – a wedding bread

Korovai is a large, braided bread made from wheat flour and decorated with symbolic dough ornaments and patterns. The Korovai is traditionally made by the bride and groom's parents as a symbol of unity and community. The bread is often blessed by a priest before the wedding ceremony and shared among the wedding guests as a sign of hospitality and good wishes for the newly-weds.


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