For us, Ukrainians, National Costume Day – Vyshyvanka – is something very important, because then we can openly announce to the whole world that we are a people with ancient traditions, our own unique culture and history. Vyshyvanka is part of our cultural heritage. Each region of Ukraine has its own style and typical ornaments, color schemes and patterns. These patterns also have ancient explanations and stories, their own symbolic character. The vyshyvankas, embroidered shirts, were passed down through the generations as something very precious.
The right and freedom to show love for Ukraine so openly is something particularly valuable for us Ukrainians and not at all self-evident. Our grandmothers, grandfathers, great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers were not allowed to do so freely, they had to live through many decades of the oppression and persecution of Ukrainian culture through totalitarianism in the Soviet Union and before that through the despotic tsarist empire of Russia. Our ancestors had to constantly fight for their survival under the regimes in which everything was regularly and systematically done to destroy Ukrainian culture, language and traditions – even our national identity.
The freedom that is taken for granted here in Western Europe is for us, Ukrainians, a freedom that is long awaited and fought for until now! Therefore, when the day of Vyshyvanka comes, we put on our embroidered shirts with great joy and celebrate this moment of freedom! Especially now, when Ukraine is experiencing such a cruel war again, when our homeland and our culture are being attacked so violently and brutally, it is very important for us all to come together, support each other and survive this bad time together.
So we all met again for the day of Vyshyvanka on May 19th, 2022, everyone in their most beautiful costume. The meeting was organized by “Ukrainians in Karlsruhe” (German-Ukrainian Association). But everyone was warmly welcomed: those who had been living abroad for years, those who only had to flee Ukraine in the last 80 days, and our friends from the group “Ukraine Support Karlsruhe” (USKA), who were with us, Ukrainians, show solidarity. Many came: the old, the young and the children. There was a nice atmosphere, everyone was very happy to be there.
It is said that every human being has two basic rights: the right to belong and the right to self-realization. It is good and important to feel your own “roots”, which gives you support and strength to grow. Vyshyvanka is a symbol of our Ukrainian roots. Roots that then give us the strength and courage to step into life to create a new and better future.
Text: Olha Danylevych
Photos: Michael M. Roth