In the Ukraine, unmarried women have traditionally worn beautifully woven floral crowns on their heads. This custom is several centuries old. It began with girls being given or making a wreath that they would use during a significant moment in their lives. They would also wear these crowns during festivals or on feast days. But these floral wreaths, which are called Vinok, aren't just made using random flowers. Each color and type of flower has a specific meaning tailored to the event or the individual who is wearing them. And to say that these crowns are a symbol of Ukrainian tradition would be an understatement. So a Ukrainian studio called Treti Pivni, or Third Roosters, has been using old photographs to recreate some of the most stunning looks ever.
Some believe that the tradition comes from Byzantine and ancient Greek traditions. And if you're wondering why they look so magical, it's because people used to believe that these crowns had the power to ward off evil.
Whenever they had access to fresh flowers and foliage, they would use them as material to make the crowns. But when they didn't have these things, they would use fabric, wax, or even make flowers out of paper.
Some people will use more than flowers to decorate their crowns. In certain regions, feathers, coins, and grasses were also woven into the mix in order to accentuate the look of the crown.
The hair is covered using long ribbons, which hangs from the back of the wreath. The color of the ribbons each represent something different. For example, blue symbolized the water and the sky, pink was for abundance, green was for purity, and yellow was for the sun.
Take mint, for example. Did you know that the Ukrainians used it as a talisman to keep their children safe from otherworldly harm? On the other hand, sunflowers were used to represent things like loyalty and devotion.
From a traditional standpoint, the wreaths were only worn by girls and young women who hadn't married yet. The only time that they would lose the right to wear the wreath is if they lost their virginity before they got hitched.
The night before the wedding, the female family members and friends of the bride would gather all of the materials needed to weave a special crown for the bride to wear on her special day. The weaving process lasts all night, and they include periwinkle, which symbolizes eternal love.
In fact, the Vinok is so old that it doesn't just go back a couple of centuries. The tradition of making and wearing these wreaths are older than Jesus Christ himself. That's right! The Vinok was fashionable in the pre-Christian era too.
During the time when communism reigned supreme in this country, the wreaths were banned. But the crowns, which represent youth, beauty, and innocence have remained a part of Ukrainian tradition and is now considered a symbol of this country's national pride.