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The Role of Music in Ukrainian Holidays

Ukrainian Songs with English Lyrics
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There is no denying that music is an integral part of any culture. However, some cultures incorporate music more fundamentally in their daily lives and activities. Ukraine is an example of such. It is a beautiful country with breathtaking landscapes, a rich culture, and amazing people. Ukrainians love to sing, and it plays a significant role in their festivals and holidays.

Ukrainians combine traditional practices with modern religious practices to give a rich cultural blend that is unique only to the region. It is distinct from most types of music found in Europe. The influence of music from this region has spread all over the world (We are sure you have searched for Ukrainian songs with English lyrics.)

In this blog, you will learn more about the musical and holiday culture of the Spyvuchy Narod (it means singing people). Let us take a look at some of Ukraine’s most important holidays. We will focus on the Easter holidays and highlight some other festivals.

Easter

Easter or Velykden (the great Day) is the most important holiday for Christians in Ukraine. It commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, three days after his crucifixion. The celebration is preceded by a great fast. The fast starts after the celebration of Masnytsia- we will discuss it below. (Note that most Ukrainians practice orthodox Catholicism, and not the same for other parts of the world that use the Gregorian calendar)

It lasts for 40 contiguous days, and during this period, Christians don’t eat any meat, fish, or dairy products. On Holy Thursday, people clean their homes in preparation for the Easter celebration. They prepare eggs and a Ukrainian Easter bread known as Paska. Ukrainians make Pysanka, eggs decorated with folk ornaments. They paint the eggs with wax and food coloring that produces beautiful meals.

After making paska and pysanka, they prepare a food basket decorated with a willow branch and an embroidered towel and head to church. The basket contains the Easter bread, pysanka, hams, sausages, and sometimes drinks. During mass, they sing Ukrainian easter hymns, and the priest blesses the food.

Families celebrate together after church and wine and dine. It is customary for the festivities to begin by eating the eggs.

Christmas.

Christmas songs from Ukraine are very popular across the world, and many people sing Ukrainian Christmas carols with English lyrics. Ukrainians celebrate two Christmases depending on the denomination. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th, while catholic Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December.

Irrespective of the dates, Ukrainians celebrate the occasion with Christmas dinner, carols and christmas markets. One such song is the carol and the bell.

Ivana Kupala

The Ivana Kupala Night is a traditional festival with pagan roots and celebrates the shortest night of the year. It marks the summer solstice and is celebrated from the night between the 6th and 7th of July. The festival entails many activities such as fire jumping, searching for fern flowers, making wreaths, and fortune-telling.

Malanka

Like many other festivals, Malanka combines elements of pagan and Christian traditions; and it commemorates the new year. It is a colorful event with quirky costumes, singing, and acting. Celebrants dress up as grandpas, grandmas, kings, horses, gypsies, etc. Ukraine has two new year holidays. This holiday marks the beginning of the new year following the old Julian calendar. It is celebrated on the 13th of January.

Masnytsia

Masnytsia, also known as butter week, is a cheerful and colorful holiday popular in eastern Ukraine dedicated to either of two gods; Veles (god of livestock) or the god of the sun, Jarilo. The is no specific date to celebrate the holiday, but it falls after the end of spring- usually between late march and early spring, before the great fast. This one-week holiday features Ukrainian karaoke, entertainment, and food.

The celebration signifies the appreciation for the past fruitful year and the hope for a more successful year. Ukrainians eat food made with butter and cheese during this festival. If you are present in Ukraine during any day of the week of Masnytsia, you can expect to eat syrnyky (pancake made with cottage cheese), regular pancake, dumplings, and many more desserts.