Culture News, 24/05/2021

Vyshyvanka Parade Unites Kharkivites

On May 20, hundreds of Kharkivites marched along the main streets wearing national embroidered costumes to celebrate the International Day of Vyshyvanka, which is the name of the Ukrainian ethnic clothes.

Kharkiv residents gathered on Maidan Konstytutsii (Ukrainian: Constitution Square). Ukrainian patriots joined the event together with their families, friends, colleagues or just like-minded people. The parade participants unfolded two blue and yellow panels more than 100 meters long which symbolized the national Ukrainian flag. Carrying the flag, chanting traditional slogans, singing Ukrainian songs, participants reached Maidan Svobody (Ukrainian: Freedom Square). The parade ended with simultaneous performance of the Ukrainian anthem.

“This year’s march is special because it is a jubilee one. We have been holding it for the fifteenth year,” said Oleksandr Tereshchenko, the organizer of the event and the head of Kharkiv’s Prosvita, a society for preserving and developing Ukrainian culture and education among the population.

During the event, the participants were wearing various vyshyvankas (Ukrainian: embroidered shirts). Some people were dressed in mass-market shirts, while others wore more authentic and sophisticated embroidered shirts. Among the participants, there were people who decorated themselves with wreaths, traditional hats and Ukrainian jewelry.

“It’s not just our present – it’s our culture,” highlighted Natalia Malisur, the event’s participant. “Anyone can show very interesting clothes and see this exciting phenomenon but it happens only once a year. I’m also wearing imitation corals. It is a traditional ornament for our country. It used to be made not only of coral. It was amber, pearls, shells and glass. And wealthy young ladies wore very expensive beads, which were brought all the way from Venice. It was not just a bright decoration, but also a talisman,” Natalia adds.

“My vyshyvanka was embroidered by Maria, a woman from Polissya,” recalls Mykola Mokh, a Kharkiv actor. “But she embroidered it a little differently than I expected. There were big roses here, but they were removed. Kharkiv embroiderers redesigned it in a traditional manner. So, I got a Kharkiv-Polissya shirt. Vyshyvanka Day is a sign of our identity, it is our national holiday that spread worldwide, and it is extremely beautiful and bright. On that day, my Facebook page was full of congratulations. And it was so joyful. It affects the deepest parts of the soul,” he adds.

According to Mykola Mokh, the vyshyvanka days started with the independence of Ukraine, when at first some daredevils started wearing their embroidered shirts. With the coming of spring, Mr. Mokh and his compatriots started coming to meetings at the Taras Shevchenko monument in embroidered shirts. And gradually they became fashionable among pro-Ukrainian Kharkiv residents. It has become a tradition to wear an embroidered shirt on all holidays as well as to various public events.

“This year, more than 1,000 people joined the event,” informed Halyna Kuts, the march’s coordinator. She recalls that last year the march was not held due to quarantine restriction.

“There wasn’t a big crowd of participants in one place, most people walked along the city center in masks keeping their distance, it was safe,” said Halyna.

On the facade of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration’s building on the Vyshyvanka Day, two huge embroidered canvases appeared. According to the administration’s press service, the pattern used in these vyshyvankas was taken from a Valky shirt of the early 20th century. Geometric floristic motives are used in the ornament.

Reference: The World Vyshyvanka Day was started in 2006 by Lesya Voronyuk, a student of Chernivtsi National University. Initially, embroidered clothes were worn by dozens of students and several faculty members. During the following years, the holiday grew into national Day and became international while the Ukrainian diaspora together with supporters of Ukraine around the world joined the celebration.

Text: Natalia Ivanova

Photo:, depo, Vasyl Holosnyi,