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A map showing various regional styles of Ukrainian embroidery
A Zaporozhian Cossack playing a bandura, a traditional Ukrainian instrument
Ukrainian folk dance group in traditional clothing

The culture of Ukraine is composed of the material and spiritual values of the Ukrainian people that has formed throughout the history of Ukraine. Strong family values and religion, alongside the traditions of Ukrainian embroidery and folk music are integral aspects of the country's culture. It is closely intertwined with ethnic studies about ethnic Ukrainians and Ukrainian historiography which is focused on the history of Kyiv and the region around it.[1]


Gold ornament of the Scythian era discovered at Tovsta Mohyla
Gold Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla
Interior of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv

Although the country has often struggled to preserve its independence[2] its people have managed to retain their cultural possessions and are proud of the considerable cultural legacy they have created. Numerous writers have contributed to the country's literary history such as Ivan Kotliarevsky, Taras Shevchenko[3] and Ivan Franko.[4] The Ukrainian culture has experienced a significant resurgence[5][failed verification] since the establishment of independence in 1991.[citation needed]

The earliest evidence of cultural artefacts in the Ukrainian lands can be traced to decorated mammoth tusks in the Neanderthal era.[6] Later, the nomadic tribes of the southern lands of the 4th century BCE, like the Scythians, produced finely worked gold ornaments such as the pectoral found in the Tovsta Mohyla mound.[7]

The modern Ukrainian culture is believed to be formed as a descendant of the ancient state of Kievan Rus' centered in Kyiv as well the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, both of which Ukrainians claim as their historical ancestors.[8][9][original research?] Ukrainian historian, academic and politician of the Ukrainian People's Republic, Mykhailo Hrushevsky referred to Ukraine as Ukraine-Rus, emphasising Ukraine's historical claim to the ancient state of Kievan Rus.[10][relevant?]

Traditional peasant folk art, embroidery and vernacular architecture are critical to Ukrainian culture, and its elements have often been determined by the resources available at the time. The country's strong tradition of folk art and embroidery continues to this day, with Ukrainian embroidery often considered an art form in itself.[citation needed]

Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by the Ukrainian Greek Catholicism, Ruthenian Greek Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Church[11] and traditions from Slavic mythology.[12] Prior to the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian culture has had heavy influence from other East Slavic cultures such as Russian and Belarusian culture.[13]

Ukrainian culture has had to overcome numerous obstacles in order to survive and retain its originality, since foreign powers and empires who dominated the country and its people in the past often implemented policies aimed at assimilating the Ukrainian population into their own population, as well as trying to eradicate and purge elements of the culture. For example, the policy of Russification posed significant obstacles to the development of the culture.[13]

Whilst progressing into modernity, Ukraine remains a highly traditional country, where the observance of certain customs and practices play a central role in its culture. Many significant Ukrainian holidays and events are based on the old Julian Calendar and so differ from their Gregorian counterparts.[14] These include Christmas and New Year's Eve, both of which are highly important in Ukrainian culture.[15]

During the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, damage was caused to 1,945 cultural infrastructure objects, according to Ukraine's Ministry of Culture and Information Policy. Cultural institutions that were damaged or destroyed by Russians include cultural clubs, libraries, museums, galleries, theatres, zoos, and art education institutions. It is estimated that rebuilding the damaged sites may take about 10 years.[16]


Holidays and celebrations

Christmas icon, Adoration of the Shepherds, from the Ivan Honchar Museum collection. Artist unknown, c. 1670.
Ukrainians in Lviv celebrate Christmas with traditional Koliada festival "The flash of Christmas star".

See also: Public holidays in Ukraine

Social gatherings like Vechornytsi have a long history in Ukrainian culture, and so do traditional holidays like Ivan Kupala Night, Masliana (Masnytsia), Koliaduvannia, and Malanka, where people gather in large groups.[17]


Main article: Education in Ukraine

Chernivtsi University.


Main article: Religion in Ukraine

Religion is practiced throughout the country. Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Eastern Catholicism and Roman Catholicism are the three most widely practiced religions. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church[18] is the largest in the country.[19] Faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the second largest, practice Byzantine rites, but are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church which means that they are also fully Catholic.[citation needed]


Main article: Arts of Ukraine

Mariinskyi Palace


Main article: Ukrainian architecture

Ukrainian architecture reflects distinct features of that particular location and time period. Design and architecture are influenced by the existing political and economic climate.[citation needed]

Vernacular architecture

Different regions in Ukraine have their own distinctive style of vernacular architecture, based on local traditions and the knowledge handed down through generations.[20] The Museum of Folk Architecture and Way of Life of Central Naddnipryanshchyna is located in Pereiaslav. The open-air museum contains 13 theme museums, 122 examples of national architecture, and over 30,000 historical cultural objects.[21] The Museum of Decorative Finishes is one of the featured museums that preserves the handiwork of decorative architectural applications in Ukrainian architecture. Decorative finishes use ancient traditional design patterns.[22]

Ornamental and visual art

Christmas card by Jacques Hnizdovsky

On special occasions, every aspect of ordinary life is transformed into ornamental art form of artistic expression. Ornamentation and design motifs are steeped in symbolism, religious ritual and meaning.[23] From the illuminated manuscripts of the Peresopnytsia Gospel[24] to the famous pysanky and vytynanky, intricate details have ancient meaning. Much of the oral history was lost during the past 300 years of Russification of Ukraine when Ukrainian culture and language were forbidden.[25] Organizations like the Ivan Honchar Museum, Pysanka Museum and the Ukrainian Museum are dedicated to historic preservation. Different regions of Ukraine have their own traditional ornamentation with their own variation of style and meaning. Examples can be seen in Ukrainian painting (Petrykivka, Kosiv, Opishnia, Bubnivka), ornamental architecture, Ukrainian embroidery, and textile motifs from various Ukrainian historical regions. Some of these works are inscribed in UNESCO[26] and National[27][28] lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ukraine.


Main article: History of jewellery in Ukraine


Main articles: List of Ukrainian painters, Ukrainian avant-garde, and Ukrainian underground

Traditional costume

Ukrainians in national dress

Main article: Ukrainian national clothing

The iconic embroidered shirt or blouse, the vyshyvanka,[29] is the most recognizable part of Ukrainian national costume, and even has its own public celebration in May.[30] For men, traditional dress also includes kozhukh, kontusz, żupan and sharovary. For women, traditional dress includes kozhushanka, ochipok for married women, and Ukrainian wreath for unmarried girls. Garments are made using elaborate structural design, complicated weaving techniques, extensive embroidery, and cutwork needlework.[citation needed]


Main article: Music of Ukraine


Main article: Theater in Ukraine

National Art Museum of Ukraine. Established in 1898.

Museums and libraries

Main article: Western European paintings in Ukrainian museums

There are nearly 5,000 different museums in Ukraine,[31] including National Art Museum of Ukraine, National Historical Museum of Ukraine, Museum of Western and Oriental Art, Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum in Kyiv, Lviv National Art Gallery, Poltava Art Museum, Simferopol Art Museum, and many others of art, history, traditions or dedicated to different issues. Many of these museums are at risk due to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[32]

There are 14 libraries of state significance (Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine, National historical library of Ukraine in Kyiv, Korolenko State Scientific Library in Kharkiv, and others), and 45,000 public libraries all over Ukraine. All these institutions own 700 million books.[33]


Main article: Ukrainian literature

Ukrainian literature had a difficult development because, due to constant foreign domination over Ukrainian territories, there was often a significant difference between the spoken and written language. At times the use of the Ukrainian language was even partly prohibited to be printed. However, foreign rule by Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turkey, left behind new words thereby enriching Ukrainian.[34] Despite tsarist and Soviet repression, Ukrainian authors were able to produce a rich literary heritage.[35]

Many Ukrainians also contributed to the closely related literature in Russian language.[36]

Popular culture


Main article: Ukrainian animation


Main article: Cinema of Ukraine

Mass media

Main article: Mass media of Ukraine


Main article: Sport in Ukraine

Match of Ukraine national football team in UEFA Euro 2012.

Ukraine greatly benefitted from the Soviet emphasis on physical education, which left Ukraine with hundreds of stadiums, swimming pools, gymnasiums, and many other athletic facilities.[37]

Football is the most popular sport in Ukraine. The top professional league is the Vyscha Liha, also known as the Ukrainian Premier League.[38] The two most successful teams in the Vyscha Liha are rivals FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Although Shakhtar is the reigning champion of the Vyscha Liha, Dynamo Kyiv has been much more successful historically, winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup two times, the UEFA Super Cup once, the USSR Championship a record 13 times, and the Ukrainian Championship a record 12 times; while Shakhtar only won four Ukrainian Championships and one and last UEFA Cup.[citation needed]

Many Ukrainians also played for the USSR national football team, most notably Igor Belanov and Oleg Blokhin, winners of the prestigious Golden Ball Award for the best footballers of the year. This award was only presented to one Ukrainian after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Andriy Shevchenko,[39] the former captain of the Ukraine national football team.[40] The national team made its debut in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and reached the quarter-finals before losing to eventual champions, Italy.[citation needed]

Ukrainian brothers Vitaliy Klychko and Volodymyr Klychko have held world heavyweight champion titles in boxing.[41]

Ukraine made its debut at the 1994 Winter Olympics.[42] So far, Ukraine has been much more successful in the Summer Olympics (96 medals in four appearances) than in the Winter Olympics (Five medals in four appearances). Ukraine is currently ranked 35th by the number of gold medals won in the All-time Olympic Games medal count, with every country above it, except for Russia, having more appearances.[43]

Other popular sports in Ukraine include handball, tennis, rugby union, basketball, gymnastics, and ice hockey.[37]


Main article: Tourism in Ukraine

Ukraine attracts more than 20 million visitors a year from around the world.[44] Seven Natural Wonders of Ukraine[45] and Seven Wonders of Ukraine[46] are popular destinations as well as modern urban cities,[47] festivals,[48] ecotourism,[49] and medical tourism.[50]

Crimean Tatars

See also: Crimean Tatar language and Crimean Tatar literature

Crimean Tatars are the indigenous people of the Crimea.

Crimean Tatar musician

Yurts or nomadic tents have traditionally played an important role in the cultural history of Crimean Tatars. There are different types of yurts; some are large and collapsible, called "terme", while others are small and non-collapsible (otav).

On the Nowruz holiday, Crimean Tatars usually cook eggs, chicken soup, puff meat pie (kobete), halva, and sweet biscuits. Children put on masks and sing special songs under the windows of their neighbours, receiving sweets in return.

The songs (makam) of the nomadic steppe Crimean Tatars are characterized by diatonic, melodic simplicity and brevity. The songs of mountainous and southern coastal Crimean Tatars, called Türkü, are sung with richly ornamented melodies. Household lyricism is also widespread. Occasionally, song competitions take place between young men and women during Crimean holidays and weddings. Ritual folklore includes winter greetings, wedding songs, lamentations and circular dance songs (khoran). Epic stories or destans are very popular among the Crimean Tatars, particularly the destans of "Chora batyr", "Edige", "Koroglu" and others.[51]

Today in use there are two types of alphabet: Cyrillic and Latin. Initially Crimean Tatars used Arabic script. In 1928 it was replaced with the Latin alphabet. Cyrillic was introduced in 1938 based on the Russian alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet was the only official one between 1938 and 1997. All its letters coincide with those of the Russian alphabet. The 1990s saw the start of the gradual transition of the language to the new Latin alphabet based on the Turkish one.[52]


Modern Crimean Tatar and Armenian origins signer, Jamala, won the Eurovision contest in 2016. She sings jazz, soul, funk, folk, pop and electro, and is also the author of most of her songs.[53]

See also


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  2. ^ "Ukraine". Britannica. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  3. ^ "Shevchenko, Taras". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Franko, Ivan". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  5. ^ "Kyivan Rus". Britannica. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  6. ^ Kurkov 2022, p. 24.
  7. ^ Kurkov 2022, p. 25.
  8. ^ "Galicia". Britannica. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Volhynia". Britannica. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Hrushevsky, Mykhailo. History of Ukraine-Rus' : vols. 1–10 (in 12 books)". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  11. ^ "Orthodox Christians". ARDA. Archived from the original on 11 April 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  12. ^ "Britannica". Slavic religion. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  13. ^ a b "How Russian is Ukraine?". The Conversation. 14 January 2022. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  14. ^ "Christmas on January 7". Euromaidan Press. 24 December 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  15. ^ Sibirtseva, Maria (17 July 2018). "11 Things You Should Know About Ukrainian Culture". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  16. ^ "Russians damage 1,946 cultural landmarks in two years of full-scale war against Ukraine". Ukrainska Pravda. Retrieved 2024-03-10.
  17. ^ "Ukraine's fight for a democratic future". Isis Europe. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  18. ^ "CIA World Factbook". Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Ukraine Culture. Ukraine People. Education. Religion". Archived from the original on 2010-09-04. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
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  21. ^ "Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life". Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  22. ^ "National Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  23. ^ "Ornament". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  24. ^ "Peresopnytsia Gospel". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
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  27. ^ "Про затвердження Порядку ведення Національного переліку елементів нематеріальної культурної спадщини України". Офіційний вебпортал парламенту України (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2023-02-01.
  28. ^ "Національний перелік елементів нематеріальної культурної спадщини України". (in Ukrainian). 2023-11-20. Retrieved 2023-11-22.
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  31. ^ УНIАН - Культура - Україна – музейна Країна
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  33. ^ Бібліотеки та науково-інформаційні центри України
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  37. ^ a b "Sport in Ukraine". Topend Sports. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  38. ^ "Ukraine Vyscha Liga". BetsAPI. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
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  40. ^ "List of Ukraine national football team captains". Hyperleap. Archived from the original on 7 March 2022. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
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  42. ^ "Ukraine at the Winter Olympics". Topend Sports. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
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Print sources