Speaking about modern Ukrainian customs and traditions it is necessary to stress that the Ukrainians are proud of their colorful folk culture. They love good food and drink and have a zest for life.
Most Ukrainian middle-class and lower class urban families live in flat in multi-storied buildings; only rather rich people can afford to build cottages either inside or outside the city.
Ukrainians have a deep love of the land. Many families have small country houses, called “dacha”. They are able to grow just about anything in their neat gardens, orchards, and homesteads. Some people grow food only for their own personal consumption. They spend time canning vegetables and making compote from various fruits during the summer in order to make it through the long cold winters. They always have something in their houses to serve guests.
A modern average Ukrainian family has two parents and usually one or two children. At the same time there is a growing number of one-parent families usually headed by a woman rearing a child. Like in many other countries, there are quite a lot of young unmarried people living together and sharing a household. Bringing up a child in Ukraine is very costly now; that is why many couples decided to have only one child, or even no children. Children tend to live with there parents long after they finish school. Sometimes children have to rely on their parents in financial matters as the unemployment rate among the young is very high. A newly married couple often lives with either of their parents because they have no money to buy or to rent a house or a flat of their own. Often one or both grandparents live with their children and help take care of small children. Grandparents play a great role in raising children in Ukraine.
In the village families are usually larger, and the whole family works on the farm (or a patch of land they have) together. Most parents who live in the country want their children to get a higher education, so they send them to study to big cities. After 5 years of studies, the children get used to the city way of life and seldom go home.
In their struggle for survival people become less dependent on each other within families. But still parents think it is important to teach their children daily skills and basic values of life. The result of a resent nationwide survey showed that the most important values parents want to teach their children are honestly, common sense, purposefulness, responsibility, good manners and obedience to parents. Adults believe children should be brought up to expect that they will have to struggle to succeed.
Like most other people, Ukrainians like holidays and merrymaking. They usually try to cook many tasty dishes and invite a lot of friends and relatives to their places. Another thing Ukrainians love to do is talk (while strolling, in cafes and restaurants, or at home over a cup of tea or coffee or other drinks). Conversation tends to be light, relaxing, humorous, and sometimes philosophical. Many Ukrainians enjoy picnics in the wood or somewhere the water at almost any time of year. Picnics often involve shashlik or barbequed meat, homemade salads, and sometimes alcohol. Ukrainians love to sit around fires at night and snack, drink, and sing songs to a guitar.
Popular outdoor sports in Ukraine are soccer, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, and hiking (walking in the forest). Fitness clubs have appeared all over the place. Yoga and martial arts are quite popular as well. Mountain climbing and rock climbing clubs can be found. Scuba diving, yachting, and even golf have recently become available. Increasingly popular in Ukraine are all sorts of extreme sports (bungee jumping, river rafting, downhill mountain biking, spelunking, etc.), and, more generally, all forms of active recreation (hiking, biking, boating, horseback riding, skiing, etc.).
Not everyone will do the things we’ve described above. Some Ukrainians’ culture will strike you as incomprehensible and intolerable, while others’ behavior and attitudes will seem rational and compatible with your own.
By Marina Pristinskaya