Ukrainian Historical Facts – Ukrainian Culture for kids

Modern Ukraine is a large country, located in Eastern Europe and it borders such countries as Russia, Poland, Belarus, and Romania. Its population is over 40 million people. Ukrainian is an official language of the country, but Russian is still widely spoken.


Slavic tribes occupied modern central and eastern Ukraine in the sixth century and played a key role in the establishment of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Founding of Kiev is considered to be the beginning of Ukrainian history. Kiev quickly prospered as the center of the powerful state of Kievan Rus.

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Kyi was the legendary prince of Slavic tribes, the founder of Kiev. Brothers Kyi, Schek, Horiv and their sister Lybed lived on three mountains, two of which were named after the two younger brothers. The river next to it was named after their sister Lybed.

Kievan Rus was a major power in Eastern Europe in the 9th century. Kievan Prince Volodymyr converted most of the population into Christianity in 988. Feudal conflicts led to decline of the state in the 12th century. Later it was conquered by the Mongol raiders in the 13th century.

Until the 17th century Ukraine was an important border territory for Poland, Western Europe and Russia. Ukrainians who did not want to be forced into servitude by Poland were known as Cossacks. In 1667, Ukraine was divided between Poland and Russia. Later much of modern Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire.

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In the 19th century Ukraine was under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the west and the Russian Empire in the east. Ukrainian writers and poets were determined to revive Ukrainian traditions and reform an independent Ukrainian state. After World War I Ukrainians declared the independent state. In 1918, after Russian revolution, the Ukrainian National Republic elected the first president.

In 1920s Ukraine became one of 16 republics of the former Soviet Union. Stalin ruled and controlled Ukrainian political, social, economic and cultural life through terror. His regime exiled millions of Ukrainians to Siberia.

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The Germans killed a great number of Ukrainians in World War II. In September 1941, Nazi troops entered Kiev. During this period, around 250,000 people were killed and 150,000 were taken to Germany for forced labor. Kiev was freed in November 1943. The Yalta Conference was held in Ukraine in 1945. World leaders were deciding the future of Germany and reorganizing Europe. In post war years Ukraine was restoring the damages caused by war.

The Chernobyl Nuclear Accident on April 26th, 1986, brings back terrible memories for all Ukrainians. This disaster caused thousands of deaths and problems with health for millions of Ukrainians in the future. It was a huge ecological and economic damage.

Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. But the government faced many difficulties in uniting the country and rebuilding the economy. The Orange Revolution in 2004 brought many Ukrainian people on the streets of Kiev to protest over the results of political elections.

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Ukrainian Music and Dancing – Ukrainian Culture for kids

The Ukrainian people also enjoy their traditional dances and dance games. A lot of them originated in rural villages and some of the oldest dances can be traced back to ancient times. Admiration of these dances is usually kept alive by Ukrainian dance troupes.

Ukrainian traditional music and musical instruments tell us about history of the people, their habits and life style, about the landscapes around. They also describe the rules of social life. These songs are a cultural treasure that has been preserved up to date. They can be classified in various genres: ritual and non-ritual songs, wedding songs, work songs.

There are various forms of instrumental folk music in Ukraine: solo performing on the pipe (flute), violin, bandura and ensemble playing primarily on the occasion of dance events. Instruments from Ukraine are sopilka, frilka, telenka, surma, volynka, duda, trembita, bandura, husli, skrypka.

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Ukrainian Fun and Games – Ukrainian Culture for kids

There are quite a few Ukrainian games that both adults and children will definitely enjoy playing.  Here is one of the national games played at Ivana Kupala night on the 7th of July. All people sing Ukrainian songs and dance. Girls pick up flowers and let them float on the river. If the flowers go down the river, the girls will get married. And if the flowers go back to the girl, she won’t marry soon. The second part of Kupala game is jumping over the fire. It is dangerous, but people like this game. This old tradition is still popular in Ukrainian villages.

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The next game has two names: “Blind Cat”, “Eyes”. Number of players: 5, but 10 players can play too. A cat must be chosen. A mouse covers his eyes with a black handkerchief, and then the cat has to find a mouse and guess the person. A cat becomes an angry mouse and a mouse becomes a blind cat.

The next game is called “Dragon”. All children taking part in a game make a chain and put their hands on friend’s shoulders. First person has name “a head of the dragon” and last one – “a tail of the dragon”. The chain of kids starts running. “The head” tries to catch “the tail”. Using hands is not allowed. If “the tail” has caught “the head”, they switch the spots. “The head” becomes “the tail”. It is an ancient game. You can play this game with your friends and parents. You can sing your favorite songs when playing this game.

“Jungle- Jingle” is a song-game, loved by many Ukrainians. The children sing, when they are moving in the circle and holding their hands. “Jungle” is running in the circle and when the song is over, “Jungle” stands in the circle, then “Jungle – Jingle” will be a new person.

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The game “Old Woman Kutsia” – anybody ties the eyes of another person and turns him around. The other children begin to clap hands together. The person with the blindfold on his eyes must catch the first nearest person, at this time all children around call his name. The first caught man is called “Old woman Kutsia”.

Ukrainians also do crafts and sing for fun. They are known for their Easter eggs-pysanky. Kids love to paint eggs both at home and at school.

Common Ukrainian Customs and Clothing – Ukrainian Culture for kids

Etiquette is set of rules of behavior for human relationships. It is language signs, verbal symbols, gestures, facial expressions. Ukraine has its own system of beliefs, which reflects national character, moral values, lifestyle, and type of behavior.

Ukrainians are very nice and polite people. A few simple rules of etiquette are followed by Ukrainians. If you are invited to a family home, it is traditional to bring a gift or food. A bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers is a good idea. If giving flowers as a present, the number of flowers in a bouquet should be uneven. An even number of flowers is considered bad luck by Ukrainians. If there are children in the house, bring a small gift for them too. When eating dinner at someone’s home, guests are often asked to give a toast at dinner.

Ukrainians do not shake hands across the threshold of a door. It is considered bad luck to do so. Ukrainians are known for their generosity when it comes to cooking and feeding others. Refusing food may be considered rude and impolite. Ukrainians are not greedy; they can easily share everything they have with people around.

Ukrainian people take off shoes when entering a home. The streets in Ukraine can be quite dirty and this is very important to keep apartments clean. When using public transportation, seats should be given to the elderly, mothers with children, and people with disabilities.

In Orthodox and Greek-Catholic churches, women wear scarves or hats, and men take off their hats. Women are not allowed to enter churches wearing pants or jeans, only skirts are acceptable.

Women in Ukraine never sit on stone steps or table corners, as they believe they will get sick. These superstitions are taken very seriously by Ukrainians. Legs should not be crossed in such a way that the bottom of your shoe faces another person.

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Traditional Ukrainian clothing is worn for festivals, special occasions, or holidays. National Ukrainian dresses become scarce, and some clothing items can be found in the museums nowadays.

Traditional Ukrainian costumes for women are long skirts, blouses, scarves, decorative headdresses. These clothes are richly embroidered with traditional folk motifs. Red is a prominent color in folk dress of Ukraine.

Ukrainian folk clothing for men includes embroidered white shirts, paired with pants of a bit darker colors. Traditional Ukrainian shoes were made of birch bark. They are not worn anymore, because they are quite uncomfortable, but these types of shoes can still be found today as souvenirs at Ukrainian markets.

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Ukrainian people like to wear embroidered clothing. The embroidery tradition roots in pagan beliefs of protection. Ukrainian embroidery can decorate any kind of personal cloths, towels, table linens. Embroidery tradition is passed down from generation to generation.

Modern Ukrainians also like to dress up, mostly in casual and smart casual style. T-shirts and jeans and trainers are absolute favorites of Ukrainians nowadays. Skirts with high heels for ladies and sports costumes for both men and ladies are very popular in Ukraine. Winters are cold in Ukraine. People wear a lot of warm cloths: sweaters, coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and boots.

All churches still require women to cover their heads. Bare arms and legs, tops and shorts both for men and women are inappropriate in the churches.

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Ukrainian Cuisine – Ukrainian Culture for kids

Ukrainian cuisine is an important part of the nation’s culture, lifestyle and customs. Well-known for its great flavors, Ukrainian cuisine was influenced by Russian, Polish and Turkish neighbors. Popular ingredients in the cuisine of Ukraine are meat, mushrooms, vegetables, berries, fruit and herbs. Hospitable Ukrainians serve their meals in very generous quantities.

Ukrainian cuisine has a good reputation in the world. Various pastry (dumplings, cakes), dishes of meat (Ukrainian sausage, poultry), vegetable and dairy products (fermented baked milk, cottage cheese), various fruit and honey drinks are widely popular abroad.

Ukrainian Borsch is loved in many countries and is known to the whole world. Borsch is cooked from fresh vegetables: cabbage, beets, tomatoes, garlic and parsley. The combination of these products gives borsch amazing aroma and taste.

Various cereals, dumplings stuffed with cottage cheese, potatoes, cabbage, stew meat with potatoes, pork stew with cabbage and bacon, salo (pork lard) are widely widespread in Ukraine. A significant part of Ukrainian national cuisine would hold fish dishes: crucian baked in sour cream; fish rolls; carp stuffed with mushrooms and buckwheat.

Ukrainian national cuisine is traditionally dated to various holidays and rites – marriage, birth of a child, leaving for military service. So, pancakes made from wheat and buckwheat flour and the dumplings were a must-have dish at Carnival (Pancake week). For the most solemn holidays people baked pies with meat, liver, and other fillings. Ceremonial dish of stewed dried fruit is called “uzvar”. Now, these dishes can be found on the menu of every restaurant.

Ukrainian cuisine is actually very easy to cook. A great number of unusual combinations create unique dishes. Bread is “a head of everything” in Ukraine. There are lots of methods used in preparing breads, which are often used in rituals and customs. Dishes often include pickled vegetables, available not in season. Pastries and cakes are very good, but not very sweet.

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List of Common Ukrainian Foods and Holiday Dishes

Borsch is a beetroot and cabbage soup often made with meat and garlic.

Hubivka is a mushroom soup with greens.

Oseledetz is pickled herring spiced with onion and sunflower oil.

Paska is Easter bread.

Korowai is braided sweet bread used in wedding celebrations.

Babka is an Easter bread containing dried fruit.

Varenyky are boiled dumplings stuffed with potatoes, cheese and cabbage.

Kefir is sour milk, type of thin yoghurt.

Holubtsi are cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice.

Pechenya is a roasted pork, lamb, beef or veal.

Deruny are potato pancakes served with sour cream or cheese.

Shashlyk is marinated pork and vegetables grilled on fire.

Tort is a sweet dessert cake made with walnuts or almonds.

Kutya is a Christmas dish made with honey, nuts and wheat.

Pampushky are fried rolls, often served with minced garlic.

Kvas is a drink made from bread and yeast with kind of a root beer taste.

Compote is dried fruit or fresh berry drink.

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Ukrainian Holidays – Ukrainian Culture for kids



Ukrainians love their holidays and especially love to celebrate them. They celebrate a great number of holidays, namely Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, New Years and Ivana Kupala. They also hold a festival every autumn to celebrate the end of the harvest.

New Year’s Day is one the most favorite of all holidays in Ukraine. Children receive their presents under the New Year Tree on the 1st of January. At midnight the President gives a speech broadcast nationally. When the clock strikes midnight, people pop their champagne bottles and make a toast. They congratulate each other as the clock strikes 12 times and then shoot fireworks in the sky.

January 7th is an Orthodox Christmas. People go from one house to another, singing songs and wishing health and prosperity. All those wishes are usually said in rhymes and with the spreading of wheat or other seeds. A lot of people go to churches on this day to celebrate the birth of Christ. Then they come back home and have a meal of 12 dishes with their family.

International Women’s Day is considered the first spring holiday in Ukraine. In 1910 at the International Conference of Women Socialists, Clara Tsetkin proposed celebrating the International Women’s day on the 8th of March, which was an appeal to all women of the world to join in the struggle for equality.

In April or May Orthodox Easter is usually celebrated. It is the main Christian Orthodox holiday to honor the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The date of Easter is usually determined by the Church calendar. During Easter Ukrainians buy or bake Easter cakes and hand paint eggs. It is a very important holiday. On Easter people go to the churches, spending the entire night praying to God. Usually they take with them Easter cakes, painted eggs, and bottles of wine to have the priest bless them with holy water.

The 1st of May historically has been the traditional holiday of spring. In nineteenth century, it became an International Day of Solidarity for workers of all countries.

May 9th is a Victory Day, a great tribute to those who gave their lives during World War II resulting in today’s peace and happiness. Every city has a place called “The Eternal Fire” in which people gather and put flowers to remember those, who died fighting for peace.

June 28th is a Constitution Day. On this day in 1996 the Constitution of Independent Ukraine was adopted. Fireworks, various concerts and musical events are common throughout the country.

August 24th is an Independence Day. It is Ukraine’s largest state holiday. Many fireworks and concerts are taking place throughout the capital of Ukraine and the rest of the country.

Ukrainian Folktales – Ukrainian Culture for kids

Ukrainian folktales is a whole chapter in Ukrainian history. They easily keep track of how people lived, what kind of problems they had and how solved them. Ukrainian folklore is vividly described by a folktale. All the traditions, festivals and customs can be seen in the plots of fairytales. The Ukrainian national fairy tales exist for hundreds of years and have the special genre relevant to this day.

Tales are divided primarily on domestic stories, fairy tales and tales about animals. Life of Ukrainian families was represented in domestic tales. They colorfully described the housing of Ukrainians, clothing of adults and children, food preparation. Animal tales are close to domestic, but they tell us more about the good and evil, represented by the animals. A good example is a folktale “The cockerel and hen”.

The characters of Ukrainian fairy tales with soft irony overcome the evil, while teaching wicked people a lesson. A Ukrainian tale teaches children not to give up in the face of difficulties, be brave and kind. The Ukrainian fairy tale tells the kids about respect for parents and elderly.

Ukrainian fairy tales will be interesting for both small children and adults. The most popular and loved fairy tales are ” The dog and cat”, “Two friends”, “Sparrow and blade”, “The old man and cancer”, “The sorcerer”, “How a cat went with a fox to buy boots”, “How a fox professed the rooster”, “The goat and sheep”, “Cat and Cockerel”, “The Flying Ship”.

Common Traditions in Ukraine – Ukrainian Culture for kids



Traditions in Ukraine are related to the old Ukrainian pagan symbols. For example, mischievous, poetic and very old celebration of Ivana Kupala (the night of July 7) was once associated with the day of Solstice. Even nowadays you can see how girls do round dances and start up wreaths in water, and guys jump through a fire and look for flowering fern.

Another old Ukrainian tradition is associated with the rotation of the sun – January 7 (now – Christmas in Ukraine). Back in time it was acceptable to guess the future in winter time, and even now Ukrainian Christmas traditions are divination and appeal to the forces of nature. On the eve of the Old New Year (January 13), children and adolescents still walk from house to house, knock on people’s doors, sing carols and collect gifts on Christmas. As a traditional custom, it is preserved mostly in villages.

In Ukraine people strongly believe, that if you want to have prosperity in the new house, let a cat go in first. According to the Ukrainian signs, if you want to be alone, then sit at the corner of a table and you will never get married. Do not pass anything through the threshold, if you do not want to quarrel: better step on it or come into the house.

Facts about the Ukraine – Ukrainian Culture for kids



Ukraine is a country with rich ancient history and wonderful nature. Ukrainians are hospitable, kind and friendly. They share respect for their elders, women, and love for children, nature and animals.Ukrainians became famous all over the world for their sense of humor and artistry, as well as their talent and skills to create wonderful works of art. For centuries Ukrainians decorated their everyday life with embroidery, weaving, painting, carving and pottery.

Traditionally Ukraine is a Christian country. More than half of Ukraine’s population belongs to the Orthodox Church. There are also Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and people of other faiths.

Ukraine is rich in beauty. The country can be proud of its breathtaking cities, remarkably fine historic buildings, museums, castles and other attractions. Black Sea and Sea of Azov, Crimean and Carpathian mountains underline the beauty of Ukrainian nature. Cathedrals and churches, ancient castles retain the charm and attraction for lovers of antiquity.

Culture of Ukraine dates back to ancient times and it is testified by considerable number of monuments of ancient civilizations on the territory of Ukraine. Traditions in Ukraine are very interesting and original, and Ukrainian people cherish them proudly. Even today many historical songs such as the “dumy” and the playing of the “kobza” – which was popular during the 16th century, are still enjoyed.

Family is very important for the Ukrainians. And of course, its origin and existence is accompanied by many Ukrainian rituals and rites, customs and traditions. Sending matchmakers, betrothal, wedding night – all these cheerful components are complied with people nowadays.

A lot of Ukrainian customs are associated with the birth of a child. It is also believed that pregnant women should not meet with sick people, look at snakes or get hair cut, sew or cut, buy something for an unborn baby. In general, the less people know about the pregnancy, the better. Extremely important is the Ukrainian rite of baptism. The majority considers it a sin to refuse the status of godfather or godmother.