The Hutsul region is one of the most interesting regions of Ukraine, preserving its culture, history and originality until nowadays. Hutsuls are an ethnographic group of Ukrainians inhabiting the Carpathians, namely in Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, and Transcarpathia regions. Hutsuls differ from other Ukrainians by their speech, clothing, and the manner of their dwellings. Widespread, types of artisan folk art are the following: wood carving, metal cutting, wood burning, pottery, carpet making, weaving, pysankarstvo (painting of eggs), as well as embroidery, rich in colors and ornaments.
The folklore is also rich in ceremonial songs, fairy-tales, legends, incantations and stories somehow relate to convictions and superstitions. Kolomyjka and an epic song are the most popular song genres among the Hutsuls. Melodies of folk singing, instrumental music, and the diversity of traditional dances are famous for their uniqueness. Buildings constructed have become masterpieces of the Hutsul architecture and are preserved in harmony with the natural landscapes and have further developed the region.
There are a number of historical and cultural monuments of national and regional importance in the region. Churches of the 17th to 20th centuries, which are cross-shaped, sometimes one or three-domed, built in the traditional Hutsul style and have been preserved until today. Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary of the 18th century in Vorokhta village and Church of the Holy Trinity of the 17th century in Mykulychyn village are the most valuable monuments of the sacred architecture. Aesthetic feelings and convictions of local inhabitants are being reflected in the manner of the churches’ construction. Carved icon screens and vintage icons give the Divine grace and power to everybody who believes.
From ancient times until the present, Hutsuls have been preserving their customs and traditions, handing them down from generation to generation. Here among mountain landscapes, you can observe ceremonies, which have not been preserved in other regions of Ukraine.
Departure to meadows is the most fabulous performance and event in the Hutsul region. In the end of spring, after May 6 local residents send their cattle to a pasture. Sometimes the whole community participates in this event. Cattle owners carefully prepare themselves for this event.
The traditional method of celebration is described below. Many residents still adhere to these traditions in part or in whole.
Departure to meadows was accompanied by sounds of the trembita (a traditional Hutsul musical instrument).
For example on May 6, they celebrate Saint Yuriy Day. He is the patron saint of sheep. People fasted and didn’t perform any hard-physical jobs.
On the Annunciation, April 7, people cut wood around sheep’s or cattle’s tail and later made a thread of it. On the day when the animal were sent to the meadow, the owners attached laces from the cut wool to their bodies with the belief that it would protect their animal. On the departure day, people got up early and prayed for their cattle or sheep, by a lit candle. They asked, “how do they feel?” and answered to themselves that everything was fine. Then, according to the tradition, the people fed, blessed, and count the animals. Only after that ceremony, they then sent the cattle from their yards, where they joined the others in a general movement.
In the meadow, herdsmen placed fences and built shanties in some areas where they stayed overnight. In the middle of the area during the pasture season, they built a fire and special shelters for animals from spruce. These customs of the sheep, cattle, and herdsmen in the meadow are alive in some settlements of the region today.
A traditional Hutsul wedding can be seen in the region too. This is one of the most interesting traditions. The wedding usually starts on Saturday and lasts for two days. The preparation starts much earlier. A wreath of different flowers and herbs are made on Thursday morning. The wreath is also called "the destiny". A married woman is responsible for the performing of this procedure. The wreath must be as long and as colorful as possible since it symbolizes the destiny of the young married couple.
On Friday, young men and the friends of the groom choose a small coniferous tree, an integral part of Hutsul wedding, which is decorated with ribbons. On Saturday, early in the morning the bride starts to be dressed. She is washed up, combed, and dressed in Hutsul clothes. During all the ceremonies such as making of a wreath, choosing of a tree, as well as dressing of the bride, participants sing ceremonial songs or say special incantations which have an important meaning.
A bridegroom joins the bride closer to the afternoon. The bride joyfully meets him. The bridegroom must retrieve the bride. Then the bride and the bridegroom enter the house and ask on their knees for blessings from their parents. After the blessing ceremony, they go to the church on horseback. The tradition to go on a horse exists only in the Hutsul region. The ceremony of the marriage is performed at the church. Then the married couple come back on horseback to the place where the celebration of the wedding continues.
Hutsuls are deeply religious people. Christmas is one of the most celebrated traditional holidays. The Christmas celebration starts in the evening on January 6 with a family dinner. In the morning women set "the alive fire" in the stove of twelve logs and cook twelve traditional fast dishes. They put some hay on the table and cover it with a tablecloth. They also put some garlic and wheat corns on the corners of the tableThe garlic protects them from bad spirits and the wheat corns encourage fertility.When the first star appears in the sky the eldest family member brings the sheaf of wheat which is called "didukh". The dinner starts with some prayers, an invitation of souls of dead relatives to dinner, as well as requests for the blessing of the family and its cattle. The eldest man says those prayers. Then the dinner starts. The caroling is the most interesting tradition. People are divided into groups: adults, children, and church choirs. The caroling starts after the sounds of the trembita.