Nature of Ukrainian women

Nature of Ukrainians

To understand the nature of Ukrainians, we should apply Ukrainian folklore, and folk rites, customs, and rituals. We will see there a lot of interesting things about gender roles in Ukraine.

Traditionally, the eldest and most experienced women were at the head of “Rada” (Council) and managed the community life while the men had to protect the land. So, in contrast to the patriarchal systems in many other countries, where the last word in the family always remains behind the man, in a Ukrainian family, this right belonged to the eldest woman in the family.

In Ukraine (unlike Russia) did not exist the stereotype of “a drinking husband” who beat his wife. On the contrary, when a  “drunk” Ukrainian husband returned home from the tavern, he “lowered his forelock,” because he knew that his wife would drag him by his forelock.

Marriage customs

Before agreeing to the marriage, the girl was asking her bridegroom: “Will you let me have my private time on Mondays?” If the bride did not agree, the girl had an absolute right to bring him a pumpkin, that is, to refuse, even despite the parental blessing. If the groom agreed, but then did not fulfill his promise, the wife was entitled to cancel the marriage. This behavior would have been unimaginable at that time for women in Russia, and Europe, not to mention the Asian countries.

What did this agreement mean? Once a week, namely on Monday, a young wife had the right to leave the house for the whole day. Household cares during this time lay on the shoulders of her husband, that’s why Monday has always been the most difficult day for them. Since then, we have had a very widespread saying: “Monday – is a heavy day”.

This custom was very necessary for young newly married women. It facilitated the transition of a girl into married life. On Mondays, the young wives gathered together, relaxed, and shared secrets. Neither their husbands nor mothers-in-law could bother them at that time.

Women’s wisdom

In Ukraine, witchcraft has always been perceived as a manifestation of extraordinary abilities and wisdom. It has never been punished or prosecuted unlike in Western Europe. Witches, endowed with magical power, could use it both for good and for evil.

The natural beauty and attractiveness of a witch-woman make her especially dangerous for men because “the one who sees her once, will fall in love to death.” For Ukrainians a witch is not ugly, she is a woman with an exceptional female attraction. The Ukrainians have never been frightened by the witch, on the contrary, they often asked her for help in desperate situations.

“Beregynia” – a symbol of womanhood

The ancient Ukrainian symbol of Beregynia or Orans (means “a defender“) is the image of a woman who protects family, clan, and nation. She is depicted with her hands up – a symbolic gesture of protection and blessing. It is a sacred feminine image, which is also the central symbol of the Ukrainian national revival. Cossacks believed that only the mother’s blessing could protect them in a war battle. More than losing a weapon, they were afraid to lose the amulet, made by the caring mother’s hands.

Women in Ukrainian culture have always personified not only home comfort but also the preservation of spiritual values. In the ancient images of Beregynia, her raised upwards hands are ended with horses’ heads or she is depicted among the riders which emphasizes her active position as a woman in Ukrainian society. Beregynia symbolized protection from danger for the family and the entire nation. She was a guardian and teacher of the native traditions and culture.

 The material was translated by BEST KYIV GUIDE from the article of a Ukrainian blogger who deeply studied Ukrainian folklore and traditions and collected it all in one article.