The most interesting beliefs about traditional Ukrainian embroidery
On May 18, 2023, people in Ukraine and worldwide will celebrate Embroidery Day. This annual celebration takes place on the third Thursday of May, serving as a reminder of the importance of national identity, patriotism, and the significance of one’s roots.
Embroidery’s centuries-old history has given rise to numerous beliefs surrounding this unique wardrobe item. That’s why legends and traditions are integral parts of Ukrainian folklore.
There are many exciting beliefs about embroidered shirts that may interest you.
It’s important to note that everyone determines what superstition is and what holds valuable tradition. In Ukrainian families, stories and legends about embroidery and the embroidering itself have been passed down from generation to generation. While some traditions related to embroidery may have faded over time, modern Ukrainian society is increasingly embracing and honoring the culture of our ancestors.
We invite you to discover the most popular and significant beliefs that Ukrainians have cherished throughout the ages. For instance, learn about the tradition of grooms wearing two embroidered shirts at weddings and how a dirty shirt became a symbol of spousal fidelity.
Embroidery and wedding
Embroidery holds a special place in Ukrainian weddings. The bride would embroider a shirt for her groom, and this tradition would be followed by the groom’s mother as well. During the wedding ceremony, the bride would wear her shirt over the one sewn by the groom’s mother, symbolizing unity and balance in the family.
Vyshyvanka and love
Vyshyvanka, the embroidered shirt, also holds deep connections to love. Ukrainian merchants, known as chumaks, would embark on long journeys, and upon returning home, their dirty embroidery symbolized their love and faithfulness to their wives. It was a wife’s exclusive right to wash her husband’s shirt, and if he returned home with a clean embroidered shirt, it meant another woman had washed it, indicating adultery.
Vyshyvanka and children
An embroidered shirt for a baby is more than just an ordinary garment; it is a special item in a child’s wardrobe. Mothers or grandmothers would carefully embroider this shirt, singing lullabies and offering prayers for the child’s well-being. This ritual gave the children’s vyshyvanka an unprecedented power to protect them from harm.
Vyshyvanka and evil power
In Ukrainian families, embroidering a shirt with white threads on the back served as a means of protection against evil spirits and malevolent individuals. This practice remains unchanged among modern Ukrainians, keeping misfortunes at bay and ensuring the wearer’s safety.
Vyshyvanka and family
The tradition of embroidering shirts and towels has been faithfully passed down from generation to generation, with mothers and other elder women organizing family dinners called “dedications” for younger girls who wish to learn the art of embroidery. During these events, grandmothers offer their best wishes to their granddaughters, pricking their palms with an embroidery needle. Afterward, their fathers take the girls to an apple tree in the orchard, where they seek nature’s blessings.
Embroidery and amulet
Every detail matters in embroidery, including carefully processing of shirt edges, cuffs, collars, belts, and more. Proper processing not only enhances comfort but also ensures a positive outcome. On the one hand, with the correct processing of these details, it will be much more convenient for you to wear clothes, and on the other hand, nothing wrong will happen to you in this case. Treating the edges of the embroidery is believed to be a form of charm.
Embroidery and the embroidery process
In the embroidery process, every element holds significance, from the threads to the thoughts. Threads were specially bleached for three years, and needles were carefully stored, as losing them was considered an ill omen. Attentiveness is paramount in this craft. Here are some intriguing beliefs related to the embroidery process:
- It is believed that buying needles on Monday is essential to ensure smooth and error-free embroidery.
- If the scissors accidentally fall while embroidering and stick their sharp end into the floor, it is thought to signify forthcoming good news.
- It is considered unlucky to borrow needles, so it’s best to avoid doing so.
- If you need to borrow needles, a small prick on your finger is believed to prevent any potential quarrels with the person lending them.
An embroidered Ukrainian shirt showcases incredible beauty due to the immense work, knowledge, and care poured into the embroidery process. Beyond being a stunning wardrobe item, it is a profound symbol of love for one’s country, family, and heritage. That’s why Ukrainians often possess not only their own embroidered shirts worn during holidays but also ancestral shirts that are cherished and passed down through generations.