Vinok

Vinok or the Ukrainian wreath used to be traditionally worn by young single women that were ready for wedding. It is interesting to mention that word vinok is actually quite similar to Ukrainian word “vinnchanya” which means wedding. Vinok is made of flowers, leaves and branches. Today this wreath is worn at different festivities. According to experts vinok has pagan origin. It was associated to an ancient fertility ritual.

Woman wearing vinok
Woman wearing vinok

According to the Julian calendar Ivan Kupala day (Feast of St. John the Baptist) is celebrated on the 24th of June. In the Gregorian calendar it is the 7th of July. On that day single women used to put their wreaths with a lit candle in the water. The way that wreath moved down the river or lake supposed to predict the love life. The wreath staying at one place meant that the woman is going to stay single. The drowned wreath was no doubt the worst. It meant that the girl is going to die. Something bad would happen if the candle went out. Young men were also there observing everything. Young men dived into the water to get the wreath belonging to the girl of their heart. Yet another belief also existed. People used to believe that the wreath protected the woman from evil spirits. Nowadays vinok has no ritual meaning anymore. But it can be seen at various folklore festivities.