Culture shock in Ukraine
after about five years of residing in Ukraine, I noticed quite a few interesting facts about the Ukrainian culture which i share below
Here are some of the facts or beliefs that you might find shocking but in Ukraine.
Look! Number 4 and 5 might come off to you as a surprise 😱
1. It’s not called ‘The Ukraine’
In the past during the Soviet Union, Ukraine was referred to as ‘ The Ukraine ‘
however after the independence or break out from the Soviet Union the country is now being referred to as ‘Ukraine’
While ‘The Ukraine’ sounds like it’s a better way to call her.
It’s an insult to the ears of a Ukrainian to be called that.
Because it’s like a disrespect to their independence!
The country has been through a lot. During the war and Nazi period, millions of lives (about 6million ) lost their lives to finally gain their independence, and to be called ‘the Ukraine’ comes off as total disrespect!
2. Ukrainians don’t smile at Strangers
Whether you have had a first-hand experience or have heard rumours. It’s true!
Ukrainians and Russians don’t smile at strangers.
Funny thing you smiling at them as a form of greeting (like the Americans) might raise a sign of suspicion instead
To Ukrainians, it’s like what’s funny?
All Russians know the saying: “The laugh without reason – is the sign of stupidity” (“Smeh bez prichiny – priznak durachiny”). read more here
If a random Ukrainian smile at you it’s either really genuine and a sign of welcome or that of pity!
3. Remember to take your hats off
Remember to take your hats off while indoors especially for guys!
Putting your hats on indoors is a sign of disrespect!
I remember one of my then colleague in Uni. That always wore his hat indoor and the teacher would always ask him to take it off.
However, to him, he didn’t see anything wrong wearing one.
I say that to say it’s unacceptable to wear your hats indoor in Ukraine
Just like it’s unacceptable as a guy to be seen on short and a singlet at a restaurant here too.
4. Christmas Day is celebrated on January 7th
Quite an unbelievable one right!
but the reason is that like most orthodox churches follow the old Julian calendar.
A friend of mine once jokingly said ‘ maybe their own Jesus was born later ‘ quite laughable
5. Wedding ring is worn on the right
That seems unbelievable right but it’s real!
it’s only transferred to the left hand when the spouse dies as a sign that she is a widow
although most Ukrainian women started adapting to the modern way once they relocate to western countries
6. It’s forbidden to give flowers in even numbers
Yes, it is forbidden to give flowers in even numbers as it’s considered bad luck!
You can only give flowers in even numbers during funerals
For celebrations like birthdays, convocation etc your flowers should be in odd numbers!
7. You can’t refuse a dish
If you are being invited into a Ukrainian or Russian home refusing a meal is considered rude
8. While driving, Ukrainian don’t make use of their seatbelt
I actually kept noticing this as a trend here in Ukraine and had to inquire why
And was told it was quite normal. Seatbelts are used only when travelling intercity.
And unlike Nigeria where car honking is considered normal. It is quite rare here and you are only being honked at on very rare cases.
9. Hand Gestures like thumbs up 👍🏻 Is considered Offensive
In Ukraine, making hand gestures like a thumbs up which is usually referred to as ‘well done’ by Americans is considered offensive.
This came surprisingly for me as a shock. I found out about this while taking an online course on Sociology.
10. Ukrainians don’t whistle
Ukrainians believe that whistling indoors can blow your money away.
you know the way we hum to a song in the street (West Africans) I seldom see them do that.
nor shake hands over a threshold for it is considered bad luck!
11. OMG! Ukrainians make a toast to everything
I couldn’t believe watching a movie and in a scene, family friends were making a toast to the success of the marriage of their kids even before the kids knew each other.
they literally would make a toast to everything just like the Yorubas in Nigeria greet for almost anything.
when it’s raining, for instance, you hear things like (eku ojo) almost like congratulating you for a successful rain.
Here are the 11 things out of many considered a belief/superstitious that might come off as a shock to you existing here in Ukraine
Are you familiar with any of this?
Which one of them is quite new to you?
What are the other things that you know that I didn’t make mention of?
P.s Stumbling on the 20min rule literally changed my life, I’m currently on my second read in a row this July and I’m pretty impressed. see here