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TRADITIONS: Wedding Vinok

Since the 2014 revolution, there has been a surge in national pride in Ukraine—even, or perhaps especially, when it comes to the fashion front. This wave of supporting homegrown designers and local production has contributed to a revival of Ukrainian folk staples. And a new addition to that list? The Vinok, a traditional Ukrainian flower crown.

Here, in Ukraine, the Vinok isn’t merely a pretty accessory: The meaning of the wreaths traces back to Ukraine’s early history, when they were associated with virginity, marriage, and womanhood.

The latter practice in Ukraine of wearing the wreath is meant to signal the purity of a young woman before marriage.” So, not just an accessory: If an unmarried woman “lost her vinok,” it implied that she was also no longer “pure.”

The ritual meaning of Vinok is quite wide: On the day of Ivan Kupala, young women placed their wreaths in the water with a lighted candle, foretelling their romantic future by how the wreath flowed down the river or lake. From the wreath's direction, the girl could tell whom she would marry: if the wreath stayed in one spot and did not float down the water, she would not marry; if it went under, she would die; if the candle went out, misfortune would follow. The young men would dive into the water, trying to retrieve the Vinok of the girl each loved. One of the ritual Kupala songs says, "Who will catch the wreath will catch the girl, who will get the wreath will become mine."

It was traditionally worn by girls who were eligible for marriage. The wreath's name, vinok, is related to the Ukrainian word for a wedding ceremony vinchannya.

Like most Ukrainian folk dress, the Vinok had significant symbolic value and only specific flowers were used: roses stands for love, lilies are symbols of purity and innocence, cornflowers – simplicity and modesty; heathers – independence, field bells – gratitude, laurels – success and fame; hollyhocks – beauty and coldness, peonies – longevity, daisies – peace and tenderness, immortelles – health and guelder roses – symbols of maiden beauty, the symbol of Ukraine. In addition, the vinok is a solar symbol. Girls wearing a vinok were linked to the rising sun.

The flowers used to make the wreath were generally fresh, paper or waxen and were attached onto a band of stiff paper backing covered with a ribbon.

The wreath varied in many of the regions of Ukraine; young women throughout the country wore various headdresses of yarn, ribbon, coins, feathers and grasses. In parts of central and eastern Ukraine the flowers were raised in the center front. Usually multicolored, embroidered ribbons were attached to the back.

During the Ukrainian wedding ceremony, the vinok was replaced by the ochipok, a cap that she would wear for the rest of her life.

During the Ukrainian wedding ceremony, the vinok was replaced by the ochipok, a cap that she would wear for the rest of her life.

The wreath is now worn by traditional Ukrainian dancers.

There's a LINK where you can find these Vinky🤫

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