The Nature of Beautiful Ukrainian Women
In order to understand the character of Ukrainian woman, one must first learn about Ukrainian folklore, and secondly about folk rituals, customs or rituals. Moreover, this is the unique cultural layer where you can find not only information about agriculture, the beauty of nature and winged sentiments, but also about noble deeds, strong women who are able to put things in order not only in the house, but also in society.
HISTORY OF FORMATION
It turns out that earlier it was the old and experienced women who were holding the council, and, therefore, guided the life of the public, while older men were left to protect the garden, that is to be adrift! So, unlike patriarchal systems in other countries, where the decisions were always taken by man, in the Ukrainian family this right always belonged to the oldest woman.
Even more surprising is the existence of a special “women’s holiday,” which was very peculiarly celebrated on February 24. On this day, women had fun in the tavern. It was called “soak the cows to make them gentle.” Scientists and culture experts admit that women drank to defend their independence in the patriarchal world. Returning home a little drunk, wives beat their husbands (even if not too much, only to maintain the tradition), so that they were gentle with their wives. The ox also experienced some beating that day – to make them obedient to their masters.
In Ukraine (unlike Russia) there was no stereotype of a “drinking husband”, who beats his wife when he is drunk. On the contrary, returning home from the tavern the Ukrainian husband “lowered the forelock,” because he knew that he would be dragged by his wife, who was waiting “at the gates wearing red boots.”
The rite of “pulling of wooden block” is also unique in its form and symbolism. The rite was established and conducted by women. When an illegitimate child was born in the village, the women went to the father of this child, dragged him out of the hut, no matter how hard he resisted; they put a wooden block wrapped in a diaper in his hands and escorted him through all the village to the house of the girl put to shame. There another wooden block was tied to his legs, and the man was forced to bow to the disgraced girl and kiss the child.
The man did not have the right to remove the block until the next day and could do it only having made a good gift to the child. The rite of “pulling of wooden block” was widely performed throughout Ukraine until the half of the 19th century. It had no analogues among other nations. On the contrary, for many peoples, for example Caucasian nationalities, the girl who gave birth to the baby and was not married, caused indelible disgrace not only for herself, but for the whole family. She was being stoned, often to death. The very fact of punishment of the father of illegitimate child is explained precisely by the predominant position of Ukrainian women.
GET MARRIED? I WILL BUT ON MONDAY I HAVE A DAY OFF!
Before giving her consent to a marriage, the girl asked her fiancé: “Will you allow me to monday?” If the groom did not agree, the girl had the right to refuse, that is to say, despite even the parental blessing. If the groom agreed, but then did not fulfill his promise, his wife had the right to cancel the marriage (and such facts are known). I want to stress that at that time such behavior was impossible for women in Russia, Europe, not to mention the eastern countries.
What did this agreement mean? Once a week, namely on Monday, the young wife had the right to leave the house for the whole day, not asking anyone for permission. That day it was husband who had to do all the household work, so Monday was almost the most difficult day for him. Since then they say: “Monday is a hard day.”
This custom was very necessary for young women. It facilitated the transition of the girl to married life. On Mondays, young women gathered together, rested, shared secrets, especially in the field of intimate life, had fun. Here, neither husbands nor mothers-in-law could disturb them, because the ritual law strictly forbade it.
So, the rites of “giving garbage”, “sending matchmakers”, “mondaying” and the right of a woman to dissolve the marriage demonstrate equal rights between husband and wife, which once again emphasizes the high social status of women in Ukrainian society.
SEXUALITY – NATIONAL FEATURE OF UKRAINIAN WOMAN
The rituals of collecting herbs were also interesting. The best herbs were those that were collected before sunrise, before the dewfall. The women went to distant places where “the rooster’s singing and the dog’s barking were not heard,” undressed, said special prayers, and only after that they started their work. Leaves and root were torn not with bare hands, but through the canvas. Before tearing the herbs, they said: “Become to help us.” The best herbs were collected during the holidays of Simon and Zealot – May 23 – and Ivana Kupala.
In each Ukrainian village there was kopanka – a kind of pool, which once a year had to be cleaned. Women appointed a day. Most often it happened on St. Peter holiday – July 12. Singing, women came to kopanka, made a fire and, holding hands, walked around it in the course of the sun. One of the women suddenly shouted: “Uh!” – and all rushed into the water and began to clean the kopanka. Men came to the help: they did the hardest work. Having finished the work, the women put on dry clothes. Dressing was accompanied by a ritual fight-game with men.
This rite (games with men in the water and at the time of dressing) deals with the theme of female sexuality. It is well known that in the patriarchal culture any manifestation of female sexuality was strictly strangled. The woman served only as the object of satisfying the male whim. In this rite and especially in the next – “chasing the milvus” – female sexuality not only was not strangled, but was also actively presented. Keeping the secret from men, women gathered in the garden for a ritual meal. Then they took off all their clothes and ran naked among the trees, shouting: “Ha-ha-ha!”. This meant that they were sending the milvus to God, so that the bird conveyed their prayer to prolong their intimate life.”
WHY MOTHER-IN-LAW IS EVIL AND SOLDIER’S WIFE IS FAR FROM BEING SAINT
In Ukrainian traditional culture the image of a grandmother who was not only a granny, but also a priestess who introduced the newborn into the family is also important. Often such a senior, experienced woman ruled the whole village. She was the first to hold the newborn; she took care of a woman after childbirth and gave her the necessary advice. After the birth of the child, the grandmother swaddled the child: the girl was swaddled in the men’s pants, and the boy – in the women’s skirt (perhaps that is the reason why Ukrainian women are so strong).
She did not charge a fee for her work grateful parents gave her gifts. It was customary to visit the granny during the feast of the Mother of God and treat her. Ukrainians never forgot their grandmothers – women, whose hands were the first sensation in their lives, and treated them with special respect.
Unlike mother and grandmother, the image of mother-in-law with her right to dominate the family embodies evil power. Having married, Ukrainian girl moved to live in her husband’s house, where her mother-in-law was a full-fledged mistress. Her sons always subordinated, and her husband was a typical henpecked man. In Ukrainian culture there are a lot of songs, fables and proverbs about the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. For example: “Mother-in-law is not your own blood, a serpent will lie down on my heart and suck all my blood.” The image of evil mother-in-law illustrates an interesting fact that older women become controllers of that discriminatory policy they themselves suffered in their youth.
On the contrary, the image of a merry soldier’s wife was very sexy. It’s about the time when the man was in army for 25 years, and if he managed to get married before the army, his wife became a soldier’s wife for this period. It is clear that she could not get married again, and her empty house became a kind of youth club, and the soldier’s wife was its director. Here, the young people gathered for evening and night parties. They played games, sang songs, did some work; this is how young people could get to know each other better; this is where the first romantic relationships could start.
The soldier’s wife “regulated” the behavior of the youth in one of the most difficult moments – choosing the future life partner; she was watching the observance of public morality, but she did it in a festive atmosphere, which she herself created. Not only girls and young men, but also their parents addressed the soldier’s wife if they needed help or assistance, because the welfare of the future family life depended on her. Soldier’s wife was a confidant of girlish secrets and young men’s hopes and enjoyed great authority among them, because she usually had a cheerful and easy character, a sense of humor, communicative abilities and vivid imagination. It should be noted that the public was blind to the sexual adventures of the soldier’s wife, if she adhered to the rules of decency; that is, if her romantic adventures did not end up with the birth of a bastard.
In Ukrainian traditional culture women associated with the incomprehensible and mystical were also associated with being sexual active. Here we see another typical image of a Ukrainian woman who has real and magical powers – the image of a witch.
Passion for a strong sex makes her especially dangerous for men, because “whoever sees her falls in love with her”. The Ukrainian witch is not at all terrible and ugly; it is a woman of a special female attractiveness. Ukrainians never felt horror about this type of woman; on the contrary, in desperate situations they often asked her to help. In Ukraine, sorcery was perceived as an ordinary manifestation of extraordinary abilities. At the same time, women endowed with magical abilities could use it both for good and evil.
In Ukraine it was woman who was choosing her husband. There are cases when a girl sent matchmakers to a guy she liked. Husbands piously believed in the symbolic “circle – amulet”, which the woman held over the husband thus protecting him with her love. Therefore, in the Ukrainian marriage the women’s initiative was welcomed. Even more, the ability to perform the role of bread-winner and defender directly depended on the availability of this circle. Actually, wife defended her husband.
Sacred female image, which is also the central national symbol of the Ukrainian revival, is the image of Bereginya. The long-standing symbol of Bereginya is associated with the image of a woman who protects family, gender and all people. She was portrayed with her hands raised – a symbolic gesture of protection and blessing.
Cossacks believed that only a mother’s blessing could protect them in a bloody battle. More than losing their weapons, they were afraid of losing their incense, dressed with a caring mother’s hand.
The attitude towards children was expressed in one word – self-giving. One of the Cossack ballads tells about the Cossack in love. A cruel beloved demanded to give her the heart of the Cossack’s mother as proof of his love. Cossack, mad with love, killed his mother, cut out her heart, but on the way to her beloved he fell, and the mother’s heart asked him “Did not you hit, son?”
A Ukrainian woman always embodied not only the comfort of a home, but also the preservation of spiritual values. Everything that animated the house was made by women’s hands and had not only practical, but also symbolic significance. On old images of Bereginya, her raised hands end with horse heads or she is portrayed among the riders, which emphasizes not passive but active position of the woman in Ukrainian society. Bereginya symbolized the protection and protected not only the genus, but the whole people from danger.
As we see, even in the distant past the position of the Ukrainian woman was different from the typical practice of severe submission to her husband. Even more, she dominated not in the family. It is the woman as keeper of traditions and the teacher of native language and culture as a whole that outlines the symbolic borders of the nation.
That is, the people’s support and responsibility for its social well-being is still for us – beautiful, wise, strong and sincere women!
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