Culture is an integral part of every nation. If you decide to start an intercultural relationship with a woman from Ukraine or Russia, you have to be ready to learn not only the language but also the culture, traditions and mentality of your foreign woman.
I’m not saying that you have to learn it all perfectly! Of course not! I’m happy that my German husband knows 200 words in Russian and has read a little about the history of modern Ukraine. This is a great proof of his love for me! 🙂
Therefore, my dear friends, today we will talk about a significant part of Ukrainian history, namely: the Cossacks. Just imagine, you are traveling for the first time to Ukraine to meet your lovely lady.
You go to a traditional Ukrainian restaurant with her and can hit her with your outstanding knowledge of Ukrainian culture! Brilliant!
So let’s go!
Who are the Cossacks?
Well, the history of the name can be traced back to the mid-13th century and the Cuman language.
A derivative of the Turkic language the name means (free man) referring to anyone that was unable to find a suitable place in society resulting them venturing into the steeps and developing a lack of acknowledgement of authority. Interesting as that may sound the Cossacks are more than just a name.
As I said above, the Ukrainian Cossacks are an important focal point of the Ukrainian culture and history.
History of the Ukrainian Cossacks
To understand the Cossack history there are three points that must be reviewed:
(1) The conflict that took place in the steeps, and on the Black Sea between the Cossacks, the Tatars, and the Turks.
(2) The Cossacks fight against socioeconomic and national religious oppression at the hands of the Polish magnets, on behalf of the Ukrainian people.
(3) The Cossack role in the building of an autonomous Ukrainian state.
These three points in history define the Ukrainian Cossacks in several cultures history. However, we will be looking at the influence of the Cossacks on the history and culture of the Ukrainian people.
The steppe settlers found themselves in a conflict over the Tatar raids during the first period from (1550-1648). Several fortresses were built by the Zaporozhian Cossacks in the southern region of Ukraine to combat the raids of the Tatar. As well town Cossacks were formed to protect the towns from raiders. The strategic position of the fortresses allowed the Cossacks to advance far into the steeps chasing down the Tatars, rescuing captives and unleashing counter attacks on Tatar and Turkish costal towns. As a result, the military prestige of the Cossacks spread throughout Europe.
The Ukrainian Cossacks embarked in another battle against the socioeconomic structure that was developing in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th century. The manorial system of agriculture introduced by the Polish nobility decreased land allotments, and restricted the movements of the Ukrainian people. As well the Polish nobility was attempting to force the Ukrainian people to take part in Catholicism religious practices and other aspect of the Polish culture.
Some things you should know
Peasants and townspeople fled to the steppe in opposition of the Polish nobilities and called themselves (free men) or Cossacks. Polish nobility and magnates applied feudalism to both the peasants and the Cossacks. This lead to bloodshed and conflict as the Cossacks battled both Polish landowners and the Polish government by the beginning of the 17th century.
The Cossack uprising escalated into the Cossack Polish War. As a result of the Cossack Polish conflict autonomous states came about in the Ukrainian territories.
The Cossacks fight help to shape administrative, economic, and political culture for the Ukrainian society as well. The Cossack history is a great example of the people rising up against oppression by taking arms and fighting for their freedom.
The Cossack Christian Republic established traditional rights that are essential for all free men. These rights became embedded in the Ukrainian social structure complete with morals and manners. This structure is called Sech.
Hopak as a part of the Cossacks traditions
Hopak (Ukrainian: [ɦoˈpɑk]), also referred to as Gopak or Cossack dance, is a Ukrainian dance. It is performed most often as a solitary concert dance by amateur and professional Ukrainian dance ensembles, as well as other performers of folk dances. It has also been incorporated into larger artistic opuses such as operas and ballets. The Hopak is often popularly referred to as the “National Dance of Ukraine“.