The Ukrainian wreath, vinok, is a type of wreath which, in traditional Ukrainian culture, is worn by girls and young unmarried women. The wreath may be part of a tradition dating back to the old East Slavic customs that predate the Christianization of Rus. The flower wreath remains a part of the Ukrainian national attire, and is worn on festive occasions and on holidays.
When you think about traditional wreath, do you imagine a blue and yellow flower crown? Well, there are about 80 kinds of wreaths in Ukraine, among which you can find: age-related, magic, ritual, wedding crowns, wreaths of love, wreaths of hope, devotion or separation, custom wreaths. All of them are closely associated with holidays and different events:
A wreath appeared in the girl’s life since she is three. The first wreath for her little daughter was made by mother, who embathed it in the dew for the whole week after the sunset. It was a very beautiful ritual. Such vinok was twisted with flower head pieces of marigold (to relieve headache), forget-me-not or periwinkle (to develop sense of vision) and chamomile (to calm the heart). At the age of seven, a wreath was plaited with seven flowers and apple blossom.
Wreath of love.
It was the most popular form of age-related ones. Girls could make it from 13 years and till the marriage. The basis of such flower head crown is chamomile – symbol of youth, kindness and tenderness.
Vinok of devotion.
Ukrainian girls twisted flower heads of lovage and cornflower into it. They gave wreath to their beloved at the time of separation. It wasn’t a male crown; the Cossack took a dried wreath with him to faraway lands and held it in a silk kerchief near his heart.
Wreath of hope.
It was twisted by girls who were unlucky in love, or who wanted to confess their love to a hesitant fellow. The basis of the wreath was a poppy, which infused with hope.
Wreath of separation.
The girl gave it to her men if they “didn’t work out”. For example, an abandoned girl twisted a wreath with primrose and heather. The first flower is a symbol of love that passes, the second – loneliness and despair. There was a time when the significance of such a wreath was known among all the guys.
Wedding flower crown.
It was a specific protective amulet and was associated with the sun shining in the sky. Such vinok was twined by the bridesmaids during the “stagette”. This is the last wreath in the bride’s life, because a married woman has to wear another sign of her social status – a kerchief. The main obligatory component of the wedding wreath in many Ukrainian regions was the «cross-shaped periwinkle» – a symbol of long love. Its leaves were greased with honey and garlic to protect the “young bride” from the evil eye. Interesting fact, that vinok with feathers is also mentioned in the texts of traditional wedding songs. Feathers were frequently used since the bride and her pure soul were associated with a bird.
Vinok for Kupala Night.
It is a wonderful example of ritual wreaths. This night, Ukrainian girls “set afloat” their wreaths, sometimes attaching a candle to them. And depending on how the wreath “floats”, the future fate could be predicted: if the girl will marry soon, wherefrom she can wait for her future husband, where the girl will live after the wedding and so on. Kupala wreaths were often kept at home as amulets until the next Kupala Night.