Ukrainian Family Values – Interesting Facts & Issues

Dear friends,

there is no doubt that family values are the key to understanding Ukraine culture. Family is extremely important and many old traditions are still very much a part of family life today.

I know that extended family is particularly important to Ukrainians. While families have gotten smaller in recent years, it is still common for parents and grandparents to all take active parenting roles with children. Many generations may live in the same home and help each other to raise the children. This may go back to the days when all family members would have lived close together in the same village.

Learn more about traditional and modern Ukrainian family values. Additionally, get some information on traditional Ukrainian wedding.

Some major facts of Ukrainian family culture

It is very important for Ukrainian families to stay close. They are known for their good hospitality and love to have family that live far away visit often. I know that Ukrainian women value hospitality and kindness. They appreciate chivalry and look for a partner that will treat them well and be the right addition to the family.

Ukrainian women for marriage consider their engagement to be the foundation and start of their new family. The tradition Ukrainian marriage proposal is filled with interesting symbolism and old traditions.

Traditionally, the couple would exchange bread to symbolize their engagement. If the Ukrainian woman wanted to turn down a proposal, she would present him with a pumpkin instead.

Ukrainian family values

Modern Family Values in Ukraine: The fading charm

From birth until death, human life is usually associated with the family. We are getting our personal fulfillment in the everyday family life.

The family has such important functions in human life like protection, care, as well as social and psychological defense. The atmosphere of the family is important to each of us.

Modern Ukrainian family and its functions are characterized by contradictory trends that affect the changes and development of relations in the society as a whole. What is it today, the “cell” of the Ukrainian society? What is the modern view of Ukrainian society on traditional family values?

Over the past decade, the word “family” finally lost its original meaning in the Ukrainian society. Since the early 60’s, the average Ukrainian family consisted of four members, namely: father, mother and two children.

In the 90’s, the Ukrainian family started to steadily fall. The average number of births per 1,000 inhabitants decreased from 13.3 in 1989 to 8.3 in 1998.

And although in the last two or three years the birth rate has increased slightly, Ukraine is still called as “a country of one-child families.” Statistics of recent years presents that the number of marriages decreased and the number of divorces, on the contrary, increases. In 1990, the number of Ukrainian marriages per 1000 inhabitants was 9.3, in 1998 – 6.2% (i.e. 36.5% less), and divorce, respectively – 3.7 and 4.2%.

Delaying marriage and childbearing distorts the traditional model of the Ukrainian family. In particular, the new fact for the Ukrainian culture is that some Ukrainian women prefer to give birth before they marry. Modern women in Ukraine often postpone having the first child before her thirtieth birthday because they live according to the rule: “first education and career and then children.”

Economic difficulties and uncertainty about the future are one of the main reasons for the spread of non-traditional Ukrainian marriage and family relations. Unfortunately, most young Ukrainian couples today are completely unprepared for marriage, not only in financial terms.

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Having lost Ukrainian traditional values, the future Ukrainian couple is trying to copy the American way of life with its pragmatic constraints and complete financial independence of its members.

It is difficult to say how a classic Ukrainian family will change in future. But while the traditional type of Ukrainian family is no longer valid, the new rules of “modern values” have not yet emerged. Today, many modern Ukrainian women do not imagine their life as a wife and a good mother. 

They see themselves as a beautiful woman created for luxury. They dream of a successful career. Originally natural functions of women have erased.

I hope much that the eternal family values such as “harmony”, “love”, “happiness”, “mother”, “father”, “child”, “husband”, and “wife” remain in the Ukrainian culture.

However, despite the fact that the Ukrainian society has become more rigid and the approach to the family has become more pragmatic (many Ukrainian women do not believe in family happiness if they are not sure about your financial future), feelings have become more valued. Family is still very important to most Ukrainians.

Case study “Young Families of Ukraine“ holding by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Research shows that a “good family” is the most important thing in the scale of human values for the majority of young Ukrainian families (89.8% of respondents).

Moreover, young married couples call the values of health, children, love, financial security, sexual harmony, and confidence which are important to them. Thus, we can suggest that love, personal happiness and emotional comfort seem to be the dominant values in the modern Ukrainian family.

Traditional Ukrainian wedding customs

Weddings are both a solemn and celebratory affair in the Ukraine. The Ukrainian wedding traditions merge the Ukraine bridecelebration and merry-making with the formal rituals of the wedding ceremony.

In my opinion, understanding the rituals and traditions of the country shows respect for Ukraine brides who come from traditional families or who live in a village rather than a large city.

Ukrainian wedding

The Ukrainian wedding traditions start with a formal engagement. During the engagement rituals, the groom and older married men, or the starosty, come to the bride’s parents to ask for her hand in marriage. The groom presents a bottle of strong liquor, called horilka, as a gift to the family.

If the bride accepts the groom, which is common since they court before the engagement, she drapes the starosty with a rushnyky. The bride and groom then exchange a loaf of bread to complete the engagement rituals.

Lengths of engagement vary depending on the couple and their families, but in the Ukraine a minimum of one week is required for any engagement.

Korovai bread, which is traditional Ukrainian bread for weddings and anniversaries, is baked on the Thursday or Friday before the wedding. The day after baking korovai bread, Ukraine brides and grooms along with a friend take a shyshka bread to call their wedding guests. The Friday before the wedding ceremony, the bride is given a goodbye party and the ritual tree, which is called a hiltse, is made.

In  Ukraine, a civil wedding is signed on Saturday while the religious service for the wedding is held on Sunday. Once the service is complete, the bride and groom separate and return to their family homes. A meal is presented at both homes.

Upon completing the meal at his home, the groom then travels with the wedding train to the bride’s home. The bride’s family and friends then play a game with the groom.
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The groom is charged a fee to enter the bride’s home. The groom is allowed to enter the house and sit at the family table only after he pays an entrance fee and provides another bottle of horilka.

A wedding cake and gifts are then provided to the Ukrainian bride and groom before they travel to the groom’s house. At the groom’s house, a second feast occurs. The bride and groom are provided a second wedding cake and then the groom’s guests give their gifts to the new couple.

On the morning after the wedding, a ceremonial breakfast with all of the guests and both the bride and groom’s family occurs. The formal wedding rituals are then complete, though the frivolity and merry-making continues throughout the day.

In my opinion, the traditional Ukrainian wedding is an enjoyable experience for any participant, particularly the bride. 🙂

Last Updated on June 08, 2023

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3 thoughts on “Ukrainian Family Values – Interesting Facts & Issues”

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