The art and culture of Ukraine is a result of influence from the West and East because of it being geographically located between Europe and Asia, with an assortment of strong culturally-identified ethnic groups. Many movements brought about during the Byzantine Empire and the Renaissance influenced the culture of the Ukraine. At present the country is somewhat culturally divided with the western regions bearing a stronger European influence and the eastern regions presenting a strong Russian influence.
The Ukrainian is the official state language of Ukraine. It's the language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. Ukrainians use a Cyrillic alphabet sharing some vocabulary with the languages of the neighboring Slavic nations, most notably with Belarusian, Polish, Russian and Slovak. The language can be traced back to the Old East Slavic language of the ancient state of Kievan Rus. Officially called Ruthenian, or Little Russian, Ukrainian, East Slavic language is a direct descendant of the colloquial language used in Kievan Rus during the 10 th to the 13 th century.
The Ukrainians devotedly practice religion. Orthodox Christianity and Eastern Catholicism are the two most extensively practiced religions; Protestantism and Judaism are also represented in good numbers. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the leading church in the country followed by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church which practice Byzantine rites but are united with the Roman Catholic Church.
The Ukrainian art and culture is richly embedded in ancient traditions. The 16 th century popular ‘dumy' and the playing of the ‘kobza', which were historical songs, are still enjoyed today. However music has also come a long way since then and the Kolomiya rap and Polissia magic pop tend to be most popular. There has also has been a resurgence of Cossack songs and song poetry.
Dance is also a major part of the culture of Ukraine. The Ukrainian people enjoy various forms of traditional dances and dance games. These mainly originated in rural Cossack villages and some of them can even be trace d back to the ancient cults. The women wear colorful costumes, sometimes featuring a solid bright colored tunic and matching apron with an open skirt underneath, and below that a white skirt with an embroidered hem that should reach an inch or so below the knee. Though traditionally many of these dances were performed only by males or females, today both sexes perform the dance together with great merriment. Appreciation for these dances is still kept alive by the Ukrainian dance troupes.
The Ukrainians like to celebrate a number of holidays. The Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, New Years and Ivana Kupala or St John's Eve are all enjoyed by the people in grandeur. A festival is also even held every autumn to celebrate the end of the harvest season. Though these many of these are celebrated world wide the Ukrainians have their own way of observing them. One very famous cultural festival is the Tavriya Games.
The Easter egg has its roots in Ukraine. These eggs were first drawn on with wax to create different patterns then dyed to give the eggs their delightful colors. The dye did not affect the wax-coated parts of the egg. Once the whole egg was dyed, the wax was removed leaving only the beautiful colorful patterns. This thousand years old tradition predates the arrival of Christianity in the country.
The Ukrainian food culture also dates back quite a bit. Special foods made during the Easter as well as Christmas are not made at any other time of the year. A variety of sausages, fish and cheeses are liked by the Ukrainians, besides bread which is their core diet needed to complete their meal. The Ukrainians toast their food to good health and like to linger over their meal, and engage in lively conversation with family and friends. They often drink tea (chai), wine, or coffee with a simple dessert, such as a fruit pastry. The Ukrainians specialties include the Chicken Kiev and Kiev Cake. Some of the popular traditional dishes include:
Varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, cottage cheese or cherries),
Borsch (soup made of beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat) and
Holubtsy (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots and meat).
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