Ukrainian Symbols & Values

At last weekend’s Cross-Cultural Session – language teachers do these once a week for links – we learned about Ukrainian values and symbols. Really interesting session – we learned a lot about the importance of the symbols on the traditional Ukrainian embroidered towels (рушник). Following are the symbols and what they represent:
Tree (maybe the most important): growth, roots, 3-layer structure of the earth (underground, earth, sky / hell, earth, heaven), four seasons
Oak: after the pagan god “Perun” (Перун), symbolizes strength (I was particularly excited about this one because my name, Tammela, means “meadow of oak” in Finnish)
Branch: future, spring, green, beginning, new life
Flower: joy, gladness, future
Grapes: community, togetherness
Horse: tireless movement of the sun
Rooster: guardian of new day, new life
Fish: water = life; also, Christianity
Bird: freedom, connection between earth and sky/God
Sun: light, victory, God/all-seeing eye
Rake: associated with rain, connecting earth and sky
Church: faith, spirituality
Swirl: eternity, endless life
Cross: spirituality, 4 arms/sides of world
3 Horns: trinity, sacred fire (purity)
8-Angled Star: dawn, sky, mother of God, forerunner of sun/son
We also learned some Ukrainian proverbs – unfortunately I didn’t copy them down in Ukrainian, but here they are in English. Note some similarities to proverbs we as Americans know:
-“A life without love is a river without water.”
-“If a man has no father – he is a semi-orphan. If a man has no mother – he is an orphan.”
-“Freedom is dearer than life.”
-“Beauty is till your marriage – mind/wit is till the end.”
-“Among people he is Illya [a good name], at home – he is a swine.”
-“The one who seeks for dangers will die from them.”
-“Talk less, listen more.” (Except in language lessons, says our LCF!)
-“If you want to eat an omelet, crack an egg.”
-“A bee flies to a good flower.”
-“Don’t say ‘I can’t,’ say ‘I’ll learn.’” (Another good lesson for language-learning)
-“The one who has fear has God in his soul.”
-“Tell the truth and you’ll make an enemy.”
-“An ox associates with an ox, a horse with a horse.”
More pictures below!
My cluster with the “Sunflower Club” at our training school
4/5 of my cluster in Chernihiv’s Red Square
Church in Chernihiv, ca. 1201
Street musicians on a lively Saturday in Chernihiv!
Another birthday celebration with WAY too much food.
Andrew turns 23 on the 23rd of October!

4 thoughts on “Ukrainian Symbols & Values

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