To start with, it’s necessary to say that every person, no matter their place of birth, is unique, and in some cases rules may not apply to them. In general, of course, the tendencies that have existed for centuries are still present nowadays.
Tendencies and traditions stay especially strong in Western Ukraine: after all, Lviv isn’t called the most romantic city in Ukraine for nothing. In the West, people value traditions, and everything that comes with it: long courtship, romantic dates, and celebrating couple holidays like Saint Valentine’s with great measure. Men are expected to be chivalrous, and what may be seen as outdated in some parts of the world is still considered simple politeness in Ukraine: helping women to put on their coats, carrying heavy things, opening doors and letting them in first.
Women, in their turn, are quite family-oriented: due to their upbringing, almost every girl by the age of 16 knows how to cook well, which especially considers Ukrainian cuisine, does house chores with other members of the family. This doesn’t mean that women in Western Ukraine all become home staying housewives: many pursue careers in medicine, law, and arts, and become successful in their field, as well as loved at home. Courtship in Western Ukraine is incredibly important, as it shows how serious are the intentions of the couple. Men usually ask girls for dates and bring gifts, depending on how long they have been dating: from chocolate to flower bouquets to jewelry.
If the couple decides to bring their relationship on a new level, wedding is approached seriously: the whole family and relatives from both sides are invited, which usually means wedding becomes a huge ceremony for more than 200 people, and lasts for couple of days. In villages or smaller cities, traditional Ukrainian wedding rituals are still performed up to this day, turning simple wedding into a theatrical performance.
Sure enough, reciting poetry and famous quotes about love in Ukrainian is regarded as a romantic gesture, especially appreciated in quite moments on dates: for instance, when standing on the top of the Lviv Castle Hill and watching sunset. A famous love saying by Ukrainian writer Osyp Turianskyi — Love is a fairytale made from life, and life made into a fairytale — describes Western Ukrainian ideal of love pretty well.
While West goes for traditions and to some seems overboard with showing love, people in Central Ukraine seem to take it easy. Surely, courtship and dating is just as spread here, but dating doesn’t necessarily mean looking for husband and wife. Casual dates to spend quality time together, watch movies and take long walks or even travel are quite popular. In big cities like Kyiv, people are often incredibly busy: commuting, work from 9 to 7, commuting again or various language, dance or craft classes simply don’t leave enough time for ‘proper’ romance. That’s why relationships where people met on workshops, business parties, exhibition opening nights and lectures are incredibly common.
Dedicating time to loved ones may be hard sometimes, but a famous Ukrainian love quote by Vasyl Sukhomlynskyi — Love is firstly responsibility, and then pleasure and joy — matches the concept of true love for Central Ukraine, especially dwellers of the big cities. Keeping up the fire of love is often done via pursuing same hobbies, travelling, or simply spending time at home together, as it is quite common to move in with partners after couple months of dating. Common ‘romantic’ days like Saint Valentines aren’t as importantly regarded as in Western Ukraine, but often become a nice occasion to go out, or on the contrary – stay in and cook a dinner together.
Eastern and Southern Ukraine
These regions are false known for somewhat ‘colder’ approach to romance and love, especially in contrast with West — but are just as unique as every person living on this planet. For those who live in East and South, love often starts with friendship — small talks that evolve into chatting, which then transform into spending time together after work or sharing lunch. Courtship is just as strong as in West — flowers, chocolates and regular dates are considered a must. Couples can spend just as much time home together, but never going out can bring thoughts that relationship might have come to its end. Southern cities like Odesa inspire for long romantic walks on the beach, promenades on Primorsky Boulevard and discovering every unseen corner together on walking tours. Activities like this can help to kindle relationship and love in the South.
One of the most popular Ukrainian writers and poets, Serhii Zhadan, often called a ‘voice of Donbass’, often describes love in his pinpoint, sometimes ironic but delicate poems, which are used as quotes and aphorisms in contemporary Eastern Ukraine. Surely, translating poetry often won’t keep the initial lyricism, but the sense is still there: “Love is worth it all: worth your pain, worth your separation, worth the torment and disgust, the evil whine, madness and mercy. It’s worth living, not to mention dying for”. This quite tragic, but dedicate quote shows the sides of love that are often meant to be hidden – its pain, misunderstandings and separation. Zhadan, however, states that love is worth it all in the end — and it is true to dwellers of the East, who love passionately despite the hardhsips.
Famous Ukrainian quotes about love
The strong and eternal feeling had been discussed since the dawn of humanity, and sure enough it didn’t escape Ukrainian literature. We have gathered beloved quotes by Ukrainian writers and poets, from classics to contemporary, which give a full picture of what it’s like to love in Ukraine.
“Good love is love that is true, strong and eternal. Love can in no way be eternal and strong if corrupted things like wealth fuel it. Strong and eternal love comes from the affinity of eternal souls”
Hryhorii Skovoroda, a renowned 18th century Ukrainian philosopher and poet
“Love can be a great poem that people then reread in their memories without pain and sorrow”
Lesya Ukrainka, foremost 19th century Ukrainian writer, feminist activist
“Passion is inspiration of flesh, and love is inspiration of soul”
Lina Kostenko, 20th Ukrainian writer, representative of the Sixtiers Ukrainian poet elite
“Love, like the Sun, opens grandeur of human beauty to the world”
Vasyl Symonenko, 20th century Ukrainian poet, dissident
Love is regarded as one of the most precious things in the world, and Ukrainian literature, full of delicate and right-in-heart quotes, certainly agrees with this point.
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