Tag Archives: Ukrainian

Ukrainian Wedding Tradition

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Ukrainian
Age: 45
Occupation: Contractor
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/40/2020
Primary Language: Ukrainian
Other Language(s): English, Russian

The following is transcribed from an interview between me and interviewee, referred to as MT. 

MT: In my country, when someone wants to get married to a girl, they have to first barter for her with her neighborhood, essentially. Usually the neighborhood people ask for booze and money and then in exchange they’ll let her go and give her to him. 

Me: So do potential grooms actually end up going and meeting the neighborhood people’s demands for their brides?

MT: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, at this point it’s usually pretend, like, not serious but because it’s tradition we have to do it, you know? So usually the guy will just go and the neighborhood will play pretend like you have to give me stuff and at this point it’s just an excuse to get some booze and get excited for the wedding. Although, I have seen a neighborhood take it seriously one time and the guy had to actually go home and get money because the neighborhood wouldn’t let her go! 

Me: And why do they do the bartering before the wedding?

MT: Well, the neighborhood is losing a person so it’s like they should get something in return, you know? And it’s also a way to test and see how much the groom wants her like what she’s worth to him. 

Me: What if someone wants to marry her from the same neighborhood, though?

MT: Oh, no matter what they’ll make the guys barter for her. So even if they’re from the same neighborhood, they’ll then separate it by streets and he’ll barter with the people on her street. If they’re on the same street, he’ll have to barter with the family type of stuff. It’s just tradition. 

Background:

Interviewee, MT, is from LViv, Ukraine. His family is from a village called Rodatichi in Ukraine. He immigrated to America at age 13, but returns home for occasions. He has lived in Sherman Oaks, CA for the rest of his life thus far and has been happily married to my mom for 11 years. He has been to numerous weddings and seen this wedding tradition happen all growing up.

Context: 

This interview was conducted over lunch at our family home, so it was very casual. He has many stories about the customs of his country that he usually shares with me so it was just like any number of our usual conversations. 

Thoughts:

There are many versions of these wedding customs, but what I found interesting is that this specific tradition of bartering for the wife is unique to his region in Ukraine. Even in the Eastern part of the country, there are wildly different traditions but they all seem to center around the idea of testing the man of his dedication to the wife. I think this is interesting because in
America, we don’t have many of these traditions where a man has to truly win and earn his bride. It is also very interesting how much variation there is within this custom as far as what the neighborhood people ask for, whether or not the groom actually has to give it to them, and whether he is bartering with the whole neighborhood or just her family. 

Ukrainian Lover has been Stood Up Song

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Former Soviet Union/Ukranian/Russian
Age: 69
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/10/18
Primary Language: Russian
Other Language(s): Ukranian

Main Piece: Ukranian Lover’s Song

Original:

Ти казала в понедiлок – пiдем разом по барвiнок. / Я прийшов, тебе нема, пiдманула, пiдвела.

Ти ж мене пiдманула, ти ж мене пiдвела. / Ти ж мене, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Я ж тебе, Я ж тебе, пiдманула, я ж тебе, я ж тебе, пiдвела. / Я ж тебе, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Ти казала у вiвторок – поцiлую разiв сорок. / Я прийшов, тебе нема, пiдманула, пiдвела.

Ти ж мене пiдманула, Ти ж мене пiдвела. / Ти ж мене, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Я ж тебе, Я ж тебе, пiдманула, я ж тебе, я ж тебе, пiдвела. / Я ж тебе, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Ти казала у середу – пiдем разом по череду. / Я прийшов, тебе нема, пiдманула, пiдвела.

Ти ж мене пiдманула, ти ж мене пiдвела. / Ти ж мене, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Я ж тебе, Я ж тебе, пiдманула, я ж тебе, я ж тебе, пiдвела. / Я ж тебе, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Ти казала у четвер – пiдем разом на концерт. / Я прийшов, тебе нема, пiдманула, пiдвела.

Ти ж мене пiдманула, ти ж мене пiдвела. / Ти ж мене, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Я ж тебе, Я ж тебе, пiдманула, я ж тебе, я ж тебе, пiдвела. / Я ж тебе, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Ти казала у п’ятницю – пiдем разом по пшеницю. / Я прийшов, тебе нема, пiдманула, пiдвела.

Ти ж мене пiдманула, ти ж мене пiдвела. / Ти ж мене, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Я ж тебе, Я ж тебе, пiдманула, я ж тебе, я ж тебе, пiдвела. / Я ж тебе, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Ти казала у суботу – пiдем разом на роботу. / Я прийшов, тебе нема, пiдманула, пiдвела.

Ти ж мене пiдманула, ти ж мене пiдвела. / Ти ж мене, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Я ж тебе, Я ж тебе, пiдманула, я ж тебе, я ж тебе, пiдвела. / Я ж тебе, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Ти казала у недiлю – пiдем разом на весiлля. / Я прийшов, тебе нема, пiдманула, пiдвела.

Ти ж мене пiдманула, ти ж мене пiдвела. / Ти ж мене, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Я ж тебе, Я ж тебе, пiдманула, я ж тебе, я ж тебе, пiдвела. / Я ж тебе, молодого, з ума розуму звела.

Phonetic:

Ty kazala v ponedilok – pidem razom po barvinok. / YA pryyshov, tebe nema, pidmanula, pidvela.
Ty zh mene pidmanula, ty zh mene pidvela. / Ty zh mene, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
YA zh tebe, YA zh tebe, pidmanula, ya zh tebe, ya zh tebe, pidvela. / YA zh tebe, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
Ty kazala u vivtorok – potsiluyu raziv sorok. / YA pryyshov, tebe nema, pidmanula, pidvela.
Ty zh mene pidmanula, Ty zh mene pidvela. / Ty zh mene, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
YA zh tebe, YA zh tebe, pidmanula, ya zh tebe, ya zh tebe, pidvela. / YA zh tebe, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
Ty kazala u seredu – pidem razom po cheredu. / YA pryyshov, tebe nema, pidmanula, pidvela.
Ty zh mene pidmanula, ty zh mene pidvela. / Ty zh mene, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
YA zh tebe, YA zh tebe, pidmanula, ya zh tebe, ya zh tebe, pidvela. / YA zh tebe, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
Ty kazala u chetver – pidem razom na kontsert. / YA pryyshov, tebe nema, pidmanula, pidvela.
Ty zh mene pidmanula, ty zh mene pidvela. / Ty zh mene, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
YA zh tebe, YA zh tebe, pidmanula, ya zh tebe, ya zh tebe, pidvela. / YA zh tebe, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
Ty kazala u p’yatnytsyu – pidem razom po pshenytsyu. / YA pryyshov, tebe nema, pidmanula, pidvela.
Ty zh mene pidmanula, ty zh mene pidvela. / Ty zh mene, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
YA zh tebe, YA zh tebe, pidmanula, ya zh tebe, ya zh tebe, pidvela. / YA zh tebe, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
Ty kazala u subotu – pidem razom na robotu. / YA pryyshov, tebe nema, pidmanula, pidvela.
Ty zh mene pidmanula, ty zh mene pidvela. / Ty zh mene, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
YA zh tebe, YA zh tebe, pidmanula, ya zh tebe, ya zh tebe, pidvela. / YA zh tebe, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
Ty kazala u nedilyu – pidem razom na vesillya. / YA pryyshov, tebe nema, pidmanula, pidvela.
Ty zh mene pidmanula, ty zh mene pidvela. / Ty zh mene, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.
YA zh tebe, YA zh tebe, pidmanula, ya zh tebe, ya zh tebe, pidvela. / YA zh tebe, molodoho, z uma rozumu zvela.

Translation:

You told me on Monay – we’ll go together and pick flowers. I came, you weren’t there, you lied, you stood me up.

You lied to me, you stood me up, You’re driving me crazy!

I to you, I to you, I lied, I to you, I to you, stood you up, I’m driving you crazy!

You told me on Tuesday, you’d kiss me forty times. I came, you weren’t there, you lied, you stood me up.

You lied to me, you stood me up, You’re driving me crazy!

I to you, I to you, I lied, I to you, I to you, stood you up, I’m driving you crazy!

You told me on Wednesday, we’ll go together and pick berries. I came, you weren’t there, you lied, you stood me up.

You lied to me, you stood me up, You’re driving me crazy!

I to you, I to you, I lied, I to you, I to you, stood you up, I’m driving you crazy!

You told me on Thrusday, we’ll go to the concert together. I came, you weren’t there, you lied, you stood me up.

You lied to me, you stood me up, You’re driving me crazy!

I to you, I to you, I lied, I to you, I to you, stood you up, I’m driving you crazy!

You told me on Friday, we’ll go collect wheat together. I came, you weren’t there, you lied, you stood me up.

You lied to me, you stood me up, You’re driving me crazy!

I to you, I to you, I lied, I to you, I to you, stood you up, I’m driving you crazy!

You told me on Saturday, we’ll go to work together. I came, you weren’t there, you lied, you stood me up.

You lied to me, you stood me up, You’re driving me crazy!

I to you, I to you, I lied, I to you, I to you, stood you up, I’m driving you crazy!

You told me on Sunday, we’ll go together to the party. I came, you weren’t there, you lied, you stood me up.

You lied to me, you stood me up, You’re driving me crazy!

I to you, I to you, I lied, I to you, I to you, stood you up, I’m driving you crazy!

Background Information:

  • Why does informant know this piece?

She would sing it with her friends when they were young.

  • Where did they learn this piece?

Soviet Union

  • What does it mean to them?

It’s a funny song about a girl who is a tease.

Context:

Often sung at parties, considered a traditional Ukranian folk song.

Personal Thoughts:

This song canbe sung by only women, or by men for half of it and women for the chorus. It is about a man who is constantly stood up by a girl he likes. For every day of the week, the girl promises to go on a date with him, and it drives him crazy that she never comes to the dates she sets up, but he clearly cannot stay away.

This song can be found in a popular Russian/Ukrainian TV Show “Svaty”:

Yakovlev, Andrey, director. Svaty. Kvartal 95 Studio, 2011.

Ubmyit: Drinking tradition

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Russian/Ukrainian/American
Age: 19
Occupation: student
Residence: Las Vegas
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2012
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

 

My informant invited me to join in a tradition. The following is transcript of our interview:

 

“ Informant: I just bought a new car right? So to commemorate the day, we do this thing called “ubmyit” which literally translates “to wash” but basically entails us taking a shot of vodka to commemorate the day. Now before you think my family are alcoholics, most Russian families do this whenever something of significance happens which is positive. When I graduate from SC we will likely do the same, as we did after high school.

 

My informant liked celebrating this way, following the tradition he learned from his parents. His parents, from Ukraine, claimed that it was common for families in eastern Europe. My informant loved it: “It’s not forced or anything but it is a fun tradition indeed. It’s like you drink to the good fortune you have had in your life type of shit”

 

As a tradition, this is a means of gathering people and having a good time, no matter how small the reason. This acts as a signifier for events in life, a way to codify and commemorate positive experiences.

Ukrainian Legend: “You Steal My Pig, You Choke On It!”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Russian, American
Age: 35
Occupation: Adjunct Faculty at the University of Southern California
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 16th, 2012
Primary Language: Russian
Other Language(s): English

Interview Extraction:

Informant: “My grandma who was living in Ukraine had many domestic animals. And one day one of her neighbors stole one of her pigs.  And she says, ‘Well it’s my pig. Just give it to me back.’ And he said ‘Nope. I went to the market, like farmers market during the weekend and I got it.’ And she said ‘No you didn’t. Because that is how my pig looked like.’ And the dude was refusing to give the pig back and grandma made a kind of, she just said like ‘Well, when you will eat my pig. You will choke on that.’ And that is exactly what happened like several- the dude died. And after that everybody in the village thought that my grandma was a witch, you know? Or that she had extra powers. So everybody was scared to upset grandma. And that’s actually coincidence you know, but it’s kind of… She said it with that intention you know, so like because you stole it and you are not admitting it that, and you are not giving my pig back it means my family will not have enough food for the winter. So it’s kind of you will eat it, but you will choke on it.”

Analysis:

The legend my informant mentioned reflects the strong belief in superstitions and in the supernatural people of Slavic origin have. This strong belief comes from the fact that historically life in the Slavic countries such as the Ukraine has been very difficult, due to political and environmental factors.  There is a basic human desire to try and make life’s events logical, especially when things seem to beyond your control.  As my informant mentioned perviously in the  interview where she talked about Russian superstitions, people want to feel safe and find the reason behind why good things and bad things happen.  Therefore people use superstitious beliefs to set up a system of rules to follow, which gives them the illusion that they have more control over their lives than they actually do.

My informant’s grandmother probably wasn’t cursing the man who stole her pig, she was saying that he will choke on the pig because her family might starve if they don’t have enough food for the winter, therefore the act of causing the pain of others will reflect back on him.  It is possible that when the man was eating the pig, he was thinking about the ‘curse’ that the informant’s grandmother had said and in this kind of homeopathic thinking he actually choked.  This kind of event  seemed to strange to the village people because it was such a coincidence, therefore in trying to make sense of the situation they believed that the most logical response was that my informant’s grandmother was a witch.  Not only did the woman say that he would die with such conviction, but it also came true.  This added to the legend’s believability.  Wither or not my informant’s grandmother was actually a witch depends on what you believe, but the fact that this story has endured with my informant’s family reflects a fascination with the supernatural.

My informant was born in 1977, Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia).  On completing her undergraduate education in Moscow, she moved to California to earn her graduate degree in theatrical design from Cal State Long Beach.  She now works as a faculty member for the USC School for Dramatic Arts.  She became a US citizen in 2012.