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Vyshyvanka day in memory of prisoners of war

Come and Join our community at the events of Vyshyvanka Day.

On Thursday, 18th of May, at 6 pm, the Ukrainian community will have a demonstration to remind the world about Ukrainian prisoners of war and Ukrainians who were deported to russia and are now being illegally kept there.

We gather next to the "I want to live" installation near Mazda Fountain at Valley Gardens

If you want to join us and express your support, we will highly appreciate that and will be glad to see you!

This year Vyshyvanka Day falls on May 18, the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Crimean Tatar Genocide, and May 18-20, the anniversary of the withdrawal of Ukrainian defenders from Azovstal.

That’s why the initiative group of organisers urged the Ukrainian communities worldwide to focus on the inner understanding of the value of an embroidered shirt as an integral part of our cultural heritage, which unites Ukrainians through space and time.

As more than 2,000 soldiers from Azovstal and thousands of defenders from other areas of the front are in captivity, they called Ukrainians to hold rallies, manifestos, and marches with attention to the issue of the return of Ukrainian prisoners of war.

But there are those whose fate is much worse than being prisoners of war. There are thousands of civilians in russian prisons just for being Ukrainians. In addition, more than 2 million civilians, including 20 000 children, were deported from Ukraine to russia. Millions are living under occupation as hostages. The tragedy of civilians is that russia does not want to exchange them as they do with military personnel, and there is very little chance for them to return to Ukraine.

There are so many heartbreaking stories of what is happening to all those people in russian captivity and filtration camps.

Like every Ukrainian in the world, the Ukrainian community of Brighton and Hove wants that all prisoners and captives of war returned home safe and sound. And we ask all people of goodwill to support Ukraine in its struggle for peace and its efforts to return home to all those deported and imprisoned.

On Saturday, 20th of May, we invite you to celebrate Vyshyvanka Day with the community.

What is Vyshyvanka, and why is it so important?

Vysivanka Day celebrates Ukrainian folk traditions of creating and wearing ethnic embroidered clothes called vyshyvankas. It is celebrated every third Thursday of May. Vyshyvankas are one of the best-known symbols of Ukrainian culture.

But why is it so important?

For Ukrainians, Vyshyvanka onse was everyday clothing, but it became a symbol of resistance, resilience and hope. So today, It is more than just a piece of wardrobe. It is the very soul of the Ukrainian nation.

The word "vyshyvanka" itself means "something that is embroidered. In the same way, as the kilt speaks about its Scottish origin, vyshyvanka proudly defines the people of Ukraine and friends of our country.

The history of the Ukrainian nation is harsh. For centuries our national symbols were under attack. The Ukrainian language was limited or prohibited most times for 400 years. And there were times when one could be imprisoned just for wearing a vyshyvanka or having Ukrainian symbols. History was rewritten, and culture was marginalised. So Ukrainian identity began to dissolve.

But what was the point?

Our Identity keeps us strong during challenging times and gives us the sense to fight for freedom. Of course, we want to be free on our land. We want to speak our language and make our own decisions. But who does not want the same?

Unfortunately, that was something that our Russian empire, later the Soviet Union and later Russia, could not stand.

So, they tried to destroy the national identities and mix the nations. Not only Ukrainians were affected by these politics.

The consequences are awful.

Nine years ago, more than half citizens of Ukraine, including myself, spoke Russian as their primary language. And protecting Russian-speaking people was one of the formal reasons for Russia to invade. But, unfortunately, the price we are paying for losing our identity is too high. Hundreds of thousands are dead, millions are left without homes, and the war continues.

Ukraine does not want to pay this price one more time. That’s why we must understand who we are and keep this knowledge for the future.

That’s why vyshyvanka is so important to us – it teaches us to be Ukrainians, speaks about our traditions and diversity, and gives us hope and protection.

It is believed that the vyshyvanka, made by loving hands, is a strong amulet. That’s why many Ukrainians are making vyshyvankas for Ukrainian soldiers.

There were stories when embroidering vyshyvankas kept people sane during the horrors of occupation or the anxiety of evacuation and leaving the family home behind.

There are so many stories about Vishivankas to be told! That is why in 2006, Lesia Voroniuk, a student at Chernivtsi University, suggested that her classmates and students choose one day and wear vyshyvanka shirts altogether. Initially, several dozen students and several faculty members wore embroidered shirts. But in the following years, the holiday grew to an all-Ukrainian level and even more.

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