Ladies' headdress

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Ukrainian ladies' headdress (vinok)

Each flower and ribbon in a Ukrainian vinok has a meaning. 

One of the oldest Ukrainian symbols is the head wreath woven from grasses and flowers and decorated with bright ribbons.

There can be up to 12 different flowers in one wreath. Each flower or grass means something:

·    roses stand for love

·     lilies are symbols of purity and innocence

·     cornflowers – simplicity and modesty

·     heathers – independence

·     laurels – success and fame

·     hollyhocks – beauty and coldness

·     peonies – longevity

·     daisies – peace and tenderness

·     immortelles / straw flowers – health

·    guelder roses – symbols of maiden beauty, the symbol of Ukraine.

 The ribbons of the headdress were also important and like the flowers, there should be twleve of them. The riboons should be longer than the young lady’s plaits, to hide this “treasure” from  the evil eye.

The ribbons were attached with in a certain order and also had their meaning:

in the centre (at the back of the head) – a brown one (the symbol for earth)

on both sides of this central ribbon – a yellow ribbon (the symbol for the sun)

light and dark green ribbons – beauty and youth

sky blue – the sky and water

warm yellow – bread

purple – wisdom

burgundy – soulfulness and sincerity

pink – abundance

In addition, white ribbons embroidered with gold and silver threads were added (on the left – the sun, on the right – the moon).

In the UK, Ukrainian girls making headdresses, mainly for traditional dancing, would sew a blue and yellow ribbon at the front on both sides of the headdress. 

When Ukraine was under Russian occupation as part of the Soviet empire, dancers wore a blue and red ribbon instead as the Ukrainian flag was banned and the Soviet Ukrainian flag was blue with a band of red.