Now Ukrainians are boldly fighting against Russian invaders for their freedom. We are fascinated by the reckless courage of this nation, so we guess it is important to know the roots of this heroism. Of course, the Ukrainian mindset is based on unique folklore.
Today we will discuss the plants that are important for this culture and have become symbols of Ukrainian myths, legends, fairy tales, and songs.
Before Christianity, paganism was the most common religion of the Ukrainian lands. In the middle of summer, people celebrated the solstice, the day of Ivan Kupala. Legends claim that fern blooms on the night of this holiday, only for one day. And whoever finds its flower will understand what birds, animals, and plants are talking about. Also, all their wishes will be fulfilled.
Some legends declared that only young people in love for the first time can find a fern’s bloom. The flower itself is said to be red and shine like a diamond. Of course, ferns do not bloom at all, but…who knows?
In Ukrainian legends, many flowers are connected with love stories. For example, the violet, which has three colors – white, yellow, and blue, arose from the tragic story of the couple. Ivan and Maria wanted to be together, but an evil sorcerer killed Ivan, and Marichka fell off the rock behind him. When they fell to the ground, they turned into violets.
The white color of the tiny flower means wedding and the union of lovers, yellow – separation and death, and blue – the sky. It is said this plant can speak, but only people in love can hear it. Violet symbolizes virtue and fidelity, as well as sadness.
Ukrainians believed that mint is a powerful amulet for someone who cleanses the space from evil spirits and the head from stupid thoughts. There was a legend that the mermaid fell in love with a guy. She was invisible and did not speak but helped him in any possible way. She could change the weather or protect him near the water.
However, he fell in love with another girl from the village. The mermaid was heartbroken and asked the magician to make her visible to have chances to be together with her loved one. The magician turned her into mint. For the rest of his life, the mermaid protected and healed her love as he smelled the fragrant plant.
Chamomile symbolizes goodness and health. Chamomile decoctions are widely used in Ukrainian folk medicine. There is a legend that once upon a time, a woman could not cure her ill son. The old healer gave her a bouquet of chamomiles and told her to make a drink from them. Chamomile tea is tasty, by the way.
Willow is a symbol of affection and love. There are many versions of legends where girls turned into ivy to be with their loved ones forever. Lesia Ukrainka, a famous Ukrainian poetess, wrote a poem about love with the willow symbol that entwines the fortress and gives it life, while the walls become support for willow. It was about great love in the old days, but now it sounds a little toxic, don't you think?
Water Lily is a symbol of fragile beauty and simplicity. In Ukraine, lilies growing in water are symbols of girls who jumped into the water to not surrender to the enemy. As we can see, the theme of the struggle against enemies and freedom is standard, as there have been many wars and battles for independence in Ukrainian history.
Forget-me-nots are little blue flowers. It is said that if you want to remember something, you have to look carefully at the bloom. According to legend, the flowers appeared when the boy Ivan, who loved the girl named Maria, had to go on a long journey. She was afraid that he would forget about her, and when they said goodbye, she cried. And the tears turned into these flowers.
Mallows were among the first plants described in the literature worldwide. Even Horace mentioned them. Ukrainian mallows grow near almost every house in the villages. They symbolize girls who defend their home without fear because once there was a girl named Malva, who knew the magic and craft of warriors and killed many enemies. Girl power!
The main themes of Ukrainian plant symbols are love, freedom, protection of one's home, magic, and contact with nature. Ukrainians have long had great respect for nature and lived in harmony with it. No wonder: the soil and climate in this country are very suitable for gardening and agriculture.