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Vyshyvanka Day in Ukraine

Ukrainians all over the world celebrate the day of the national embroidered shirt, or Vyshyvanka. Vyshyvanka Day in Ukraine is celebrated on the third Thursday of May, has turned into a global cultural diplomacy opportunity for the numerous Ukrainian communities around the world, and a national statement inside the country. The Vyshyvanka Day emerged as a flash mob not attached to any public holiday.
On this day Ukrainians wear vyshyvankas to demonstrate adherence to the idea of national identity. The day unites Ukrainians regardless of their gender, social status, religious beliefs or political opinions.

The vyshyvanka not only speaks of its Ukrainian origin but also of the particular region in which it was made. The knowing eye could detect where a person hailed from by the clothes on their back. Embroidery is thus an important craft within Ukraine and different techniques exist to suit local styles with their own particular patterns and colours. Traditionally, the thread was coloured according to local formulas using bark, leaves, flowers, berries and so on. In this way, the local environment is literally reflected in the colour of the embroidery.

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  • Embroidery is one of the main characteristics of Ukrainian clothing. The patterns of embroidery are different for different regions of the country. And they’re also very symbolic. There are guardian patterns, patterns that tell a specific story about the owner of the shirt, patterns that bring luck and so on. Usually white cloth is embroidered with red and black threads, but there are also some variations: white embroidery on white cloth, black on white, red on black, blue on white and colorful (red, black, yellow, green, orange, blue etc.) patterns.

Characteristics of Ukrainian clothing

Ukrainian embroidery colors

There are six basic colors, which are used in Ukrainian embroidery. Each of them has its symbolic value and meaning:

  • black color symbolizes the earth, which is well-known to be a breadwinner for Ukrainians;
  • red is a bright vivid color that means passion, happiness, love and cheerfulness;
  • white color is used for hemstitch embroidery. It is a source of purity, integrity and sanctity. In the olden times white color was very appreciated, so the wedding rings were made of silver as a talisman;
  • blue is a color of water and sky, the symbol of purification, inner peace and healing sicknesses;
  • green is a floral color, symbol of spring and youth;
  • yellow color is a symbol of stars and the moon. It is also the color of separation. According to folk tradition Ukrainians don`t give their beloved yellow flowers as they may cause breakup. Hot yellow color is a symbol of wealth, gold, wheat and honey.

Ukrainian embroidered shirt is not just an outfit; it is a true protective amulet. Vyshyvanka is used as a talisman to protect the person wearing it and to tell a story. Embroidery was used in vulnerable places on the garment where evil spirits could potentially enter the body: along the neckline, cuffs, shoulders, back and hem.There are two variants of embroidery, manual and machine, which are used for male and female traditional Ukrainian shirts or vyshyvankas, dresses, towels (rushnyk) and household items, such as tablecloth, blankets and pillowcases.

" The embroidered shirt is a document of the Ukrainian people! This is an amulet! In the ornaments all the magic of love and the history of each region of my favorite country! "

The first embroidered garments on the territory of Slavonic countries had primarily religious meaning, and protected their owners from evil. That is why the shirts were decorated with ornaments on sleeves, collars, hem and everywhere where the body was open. There were special vyshyvankas for religious rituals and festive events. Embroidered shirts were given as presents to newborn babies in order to protect them from evil spirits.

Shirts have always been embroidered by women, and that is why they were strongly charged emotionally, symbolized goodness, love and loyalty. Our ancestors’ ancient spell said “The shirt on one’s body is white and clean, so let the husband’s attitude towards his wife be the same”. That is why the young girls had to embroider wedding shirts for their future husbands