Mail-Order Brides? Who Are They? Where Are They From?

Ukrainian wife. Dream or reality?

The term ‘mail-order bride’ was first used around 1850s. And the first mail-order brides were American women from the U.S. East Coast.

When American men moved West to work on the frontier, women stayed in the east of the country. Eventually West became more developed and men who worked there became more financially stable, and all that was missing was having women in their lives. They decided that the only easy way to find a wife was to place advertisements in newspapers and write letters to churches in East. It worked. A lot of women saw ads and sent letters with photographs to the men in West. They were corresponding with each other until ladies agreed to get married. Men then paid for all the moving expenses, and brought their wives-to-be into their new homes in West.

As you can see the term ‘mail-order bride’ was originally used to describe an American woman living in East who wanted to find a better life, have more financial security, and have more opportunities. Therefore, women were willing to marry men without ever seeing them before.

In a modern internet dating world, Eastern European women are also often called ‘mail-order brides’. It’s a cliché that lost its original meaning long time ago. There is almost no such thing as a ‘blind date marriage’ any more. Men do not choose, even if they do think so. Women choose! Unless these women are totally desperate due to an abusive ex husband situation, their children in immediate need of Western medical treatments, or other frantic situation, they are not going to agree to marry a man that they have never met!!

This is the reason why many foreign men have dilemma when they come to Ukraine. Many are delusional to believe in such a big fairytale. Most Ukrainian women are not desperate anymore, and they are not looking for an economic escape. They are looking for Mister Right, and he better be well educated, successful, emotionally and mentally stable, and physically fit, with limited bad habits! They are not jumping into an ‘American love boat ride’, and they are not marrying men just because they have American passports and big houses back home in Kansas. Many Ukrainian women understand that money is relative these days. In Ukraine a lot of women live on their savings. In the United States many men live on credit.

Of course, there are still some women out there who have a really hard life, and who are actively looking for a way out, whatever that implies. Many have mentally and physically abusive husbands, low paid jobs, and a constant lack of money to pay for basic living expenses. But the majority of women are well off on their own now.

The bottom-line is, no matter where you live and where you come from, it is true that we all want better lives. Most of us want to be in a place where we feel our best. And remember, it is a woman’s nature to look for man who could provide physical, mental, emotional, and material stability. Historically, women have been always looking for men who could give them sense of security. Woman’s brain is programmed to look for a man who could be a reliable partner and provider for her future children. The one who could kill the wooly mammoth, bring it to his cave, and defend his family from unwelcome intruders. Those are simple basic instincts. And it doesn’t matter if you are American or Ukrainian woman, we all want to have a man who could provide that sense of security, whatever it implies. For some, it is moving west, east, north or south, and for others it might be as simple as moving from a trailer to a mobile home. We all have basic instincts that motivate and move us through the wilderness of this complicated world.

The question is: how much sense does it make to use the old term ‘mail-order bride’ when it lost its meaning many decades or even centuries ago? I am just wondering, maybe it is time to change it for something more appropriate, something that would reflect the realities of a modern dating world? How about “overseas bride”? Sounds good to me. Don’t you think?

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March 8 – International Women’s Day.

International Women's Day

On March 8 all the women in the world are celebrating International Women’s Day. A great day in history.  A great time to celebrate women and their special place in this world.

This holiday was originally called ‘International Working Women’s Day’. The first Women’s Day was celebrated on February 28, 1909 in the United States in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Women were calling for equality and justice. They wanted to have the same rights as men, and they wanted to be treated fairly.

In August 1910 an International Women’s Conference with over 100 women from 17 countries was organized in Copenhagen. German Socialist Luise Zietz offered an official celebration of an annual ‘International Woman’s Day’ (singular) to honor the movement for women’s rights. For the first time three women were elected to the Finnish parliament.

Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. Around the same time next year, women all over Europe were protesting the World War I.

In 1917, in the end of February women had a strike for “bread and peace”, after loosing 2 million Russian soldiers in the war. The political leaders were opposing the strike, but women went on anyway. Four days later the provisional government granted women the right to vote. That was a historic Sunday of February 23 (Julian calendar). With the implementation of the modern Gregorian calendar, the celebration was moved to March 8.

Since then, every year International Women’s Day has been celebrated in Russia, Ukraine and many other countries.

In Ukraine, International Women’s Day is one of the most important holidays. It is a celebration of women, and their feminine side. And yes, women do expect to be treated extra special. No cooking, no cleaning, and no serving on this day. It’s all about women, women, and once again women.  It’s a great time for the beautiful souls to finally relax and enjoy all the attention and care from the strongest half of this planet.

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Ukrainian currency ‘Hryvnia’

1 Hryvnia

The Hryvnia, also spelled sometimes as Hryvna or Grivna, is a Ukrainian currency that was introduced by the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) on September 2, 1996. Hryvnia replaced a temporary currency ‘Coupon’ (or ‘Karbovanets’), used in Ukraine right after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

1 Ukrainian Karbovanets

Karbovanets suffered a hyperinflation in 1996. I still remember paying for a bread loaf about 90,000 ‘Karbovantsiv’ (plural for ‘Karbovanets’). The Ukrainian Hryvnia replaced Karbovanets at a rate of 100,000 to 1 on 16 September 1996. Since then, Hryvnia has been the only acceptable currency in Ukraine. It is a relatively new currency, though the roots go back to Kievan Rus (9th – 13th centuries), with Kiev being the capital. In those days, Hryvnia was a silver ingot of 160-200 grams.

500 Hryvnias



Hryvnia’s sign is , and code is UAH.

There are bills for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 Hryvnias (plural for Hryvia).



1 kopiyka


There are coins called ‘kopiyka‘ for 1, 2, 5 10, 25, and 50 kopiykas. 1 kopiyka is equal to 1/100 of Hryvnia. Also there are 1, 2 and 5 Hryvnia coins as well as some commemorative collectible coins.



New Euro 2012 Ukrainian Coin

Recently, the National Bank of Ukraine has released a series of commemorative coins for UEFA EURO 2012. There are 12 coins in the series. Eleven coins in gold, silver and nickel silver have been officially put into circulation, and a coin with a face value of one hryvnia will be issued in early 2012 (source: “UEFA EURO 2012 gains new currency in Ukraine”, published: Friday 23 December 2011, 11.00 CET,

The exchange rate for Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH) to 1 US Dollar (USD) initially was UAH 1.76 = USD 1.00.

Now it’s 8 UAH = 1 USD.

Categories: All Things Ukrainian | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday of Forgiveness in Orthodox Christianity

The Lord Confronts the Disobedience of Adam & Eve; "The Expulsion from Paradise", Nave Mosaics from Palatine Chapel, Palermo, Sicily. Mid 12th Century.

The last day of Maslenitsa Week (Maslenitsa) is called “Forgiveness Sunday“. It is the last day before the Lent. This year it falls on February 26. It received its name from the Orthodox Christian custom at Vespers (evening prayer services in Eastern Orthodox Church) on Sunday evening right before the Great Lent, when all the people make prostration (poklon) asking each other for forgiveness. People hope that God will forgive their sins, and it’s only possible if people forgive themselves and each other first. Forgiveness Sunday also commemorates Adam’s expulsion from Paradise through disobedience, and it accentuates Christians’ need for forgiveness.

Growing up, I remember how my family was always asking each other for forgiveness on this day. We would just sincerely talk about all the things we’d done wrong, and how we were sorry for unintentionally hurting each other. After I got married, I brought this tradition to the US, into my American-Ukrainian marriage. Now, every year on Forgiveness Sunday my husband and I ask each other for forgiveness, and say how much we care, and love each other.

I think we should all ask each other for forgiveness on this day. No matter what religious beliefs you have, it’s simply a healthy thing to do. Life is too short for bearing a grudge, and keeping the negative energy inside of you. Let go. And forgive!

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Enjoy “Maslenitsa” and forget about diet for this week!

Galyna's home made "bliny"

This week, Slavic people are celebrating Maslenitsa (20th February – 26th of February, 2012).

Maslenitsa (Russian: Ма́сленица) is a Slavic (Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian) religious and folk holiday. It is also known as Butter Week, Pancake week or Cheese-fare Week. It is the seventh week before Easter (Russian: Па́сха, Paskha). The Orthodox date of Easter sometimes differs from the Western Christian Easter date. In 2012, for example, Western world will be celebrating Easter on April 8; and Orthodox Christians will be celebrating it on April 15. That’s why Maslenitsa week varies each year. This Slavic holiday is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent. Orthodox Lent begins on Monday after Maslenitsa. It’s very similar to “Mardi Gras” (Carnival Season), with the exception of Lent in Western Christianity beginning on Wednesday.

Maslenitsa is both folk and Christian holiday. It is a celebration of the end of the winter season and rebirth of sun. The main dish of Maslenitsa is bliny (pancakes), made from eggs, milk and flour (though original Russian blin is made from yeast and dairy products). People say that a “blin”/ “blintz” is round and golden like sun.

Galyna's home made "bliny" with cottage cheese filling

For Christians, Maslenitsa is the last week before the Great Lent. No meat is allowed during this week. Orthodox Christians can eat only dairy products, including cheese, that’s why the other name of this week is “Cheese-fare week”. During Lent, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs are forbidden, as well as music, dancing and parties. That’s why Maslenitsa is a great time to eat “bliny” (pancakes), and sing and dance before a 48 day long Lent.

Maslenitsa is a wonderful way to celebrate Slavic culture, enjoy the end of the winter, and for Christians to have fun before the Great Lent. Sunny “bliny” are warming up people’s hearts inside when it’s still freezing outside.

Here is an interesting video of  Maslenitsa celebration in Russia.

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The Day of Fatherland Defender

"Have you signed up as a volunteer?", by D.S. Moor (real name Dmitry Orlov), 1920.

On February 23, Ukrainian men are celebrating the Day of Fatherland Defender, which was originally known as Red Army Day (Russian: День Красной Армии / Dyen’ Krasnoy Armii.) It’s believed that the first mass draft into the Red Army occurred on February 23, 1918 during the Russian Civil War. Regular working class people were encouraged and most of the times forced to join the army. It was the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. During the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922 the army consisted of communist combat revolutionary groups.

In 1922 this date was officially declared the Day of the Red Army.

Later it grew into the Soviet Union national army. In 1949, it was renamed into the Soviet Army and Navy Day (Russian: День Советской Армии и Военно-Морского Флота/ Dyen’ Sovyetskoy Armii i Voyenno-Morskogo flota).

After the Soviet Union collapsed the holiday was renamed into the Day of Fatherland Defender. Originally only soldiers, armed forces veterans, and law enforcement agencies celebrated this holiday. These days the Day of Fatherland Defender is not a public holiday. Though, people celebrate it as the “real men’s day”. Women give special attention to their men (family, friends, husbands, boyfriends). And men love celebrating it and of course getting all the attention and gifts from their loved ones.

The Ukrainian army has its own holiday “The Armed Forces Day” on December 6.

Here is the list of all the military holidays in Ukraine:

  • February 23 – The Defender Day
  • July 8 – The Air Defense Day
  • Last Sunday in July – The Navy Day
  • August 2 – The Airmobile Forces Day
  • August 8 – The Signal troops Day
  • September 7 – The Day of Military Intelligence
  • Second Sunday of September (September 9 in 2012) – The Tankman Day
  • September 14 – The mobilization serviceman Day
  • October 29 – The Day of finance officers
  • November 3 – The Rocket Forces and Artillery Day
  • November 3 – The Day of Engineers
  • December 6 – The Armed Forces Day
  • December 12 – The Day of Ground Forces
  • December 23 – The Day of all level operational control structures servicemen.

My best wishes go to all the men who defend and protect us, to all the manliest men!!!

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Happy Tatiana’s Day and Happy Student’s Day!

St. Tatiana

Have you ever wondered why all the Tatianas get to celebrate their own holiday on January 25th? Or what does this day have to do with Russian/Ukrainian students? Most people think it all started with Russian Empress Elizabeth issuing the decree ordering the establishment of the first university in Russia on January 25 (January 12 old style), 1755. However, its roots begin back in the 3rd Century.

At that time, Romans believed not in one but many gods. They tormented early Christians for worshiping one god. Whoever didn’t obey and didn’t want to accept Roman faith was severely persecuted.

The Holy Virgin Martyr Tatiana was born in a noble Roman family. She was raised as a Christian, and strongly believed in Jesus Christ. Later, she became a deaconess of the fledgling church in Rome. One day Roman authorities captured St. Tatiana of Rome and put her in a temple of Apollo, ordering her to make a renunciation of her Christian faith by making a sacrifice to the Roman deity Apollo (the son of Zeus and Leto, he was believed to be the god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, music and poetry, plague and healing). Tatiana was continuously praying to Jesus Christ to help her. The legend says that after extensive prayers an earthquake hit the temple of Apollo, and the statue of Roman god broke into small pieces. The Romans didn’t see it as a miracle; they thought it was evil. Tatiana was then severely beaten, and cut with razors. They gouged her eyes, and continued to torture. She was praying, asking God to open torturers’ eyes to Christ. At that moment they saw four angels around Tatiana. All eight torturers kneeled in front of her asking her to forgive them for their sins. After seeing all that, they believed in Christ. The Roman authorities became outraged, and the next day they tortured and slain the eight men. Then they threw Tatiana into a lion’s cage. But, instead of tearing her into small pieces, the animal crawled down to her feet, and lay there peacefully. After several tries to kill the martyr, on January 25 (January 12 in Julian calendar), 226 the Roman authorities beheaded her. Tatiana’s Day was first celebrated in 235. It was another century before a Roman ruler Constantine I (324–337) became the first Christian emperor. In 380 Christianity was established as the official religion of the Roman Empire by Theodosius I. Christians have been celebrating Tatiana’s Day on January 25th according to Gregorian calendar (January 12 in Julian calendar). Since 235 all the women named Tatiana have been celebrating their name day, together with a very special memory of a brave devoted Christian martyr Tatiana of Rome.

Centuries later, Ivan Shuvalov, first Russian Minister of Education (the Maecenas of the Russian Enlightenment), together with Mikhail Lomonosov (Academician and Professor of Chemistry) proposed an idea of establishing a University in Moscow. On 25 January, 1755, the Empress Elizabeth (Elizaveta Petrovna) signed the decree that a university should be founded in Moscow. Ivan Shuvalov was the one who chose that date. His mother’s name was Tatiana, and of course she also celebrated her name day on January 25th. It was Ivan’s special gift to his mother. The church of Saint Tatiana was later built in the university campus, and the Russian Orthodox Church declared Saint Tatiana the patron saint of students. Later, the Emperor of Russia Nicholas I officially declared that day to be a holiday of all students, and not just the day of the university establishment. Also, school winter break started on January 25th.

I believe that if not for Ivan Shuvalov, and not for the University of Moscow, St. Tatiana’s Day would probably be another saint’s day in the Russian Orthodox Church calendar. Thanks to all those events in history, now January 25th is celebrated by Christians, all the students, and all Tatianas (Tatyanas).

Happy Tatiana’s Day and Happy Student’s Day to all the Christians, all Tatianas and all those who are acquiring new knowledge!

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Happy “Old New Year”!

Happy Old New Year!

Ukraine loves holidays, and the most popular holiday of the year is New Year! People have several New Year parties around that time- at work, with friends, family and relatives. They know how to celebrate! Ukrainians love New Year. They believe that all the troubles and problems will end when the “old year” ends; and New Year will bring happiness and joy, and definitely will be better than the old one. Most Ukrainians watch the celebration of New Year on the main Russian TV channel “Channel One”, which was the first television channel to broadcast in the Soviet Union. It’s been a tradition for many years to watch how the Kremlin’s Spassky Clock Tower chimes in the “new year”. Everybody counts together “five, four, three, two, one”, and yells “Happy New Year.” Everybody’s heart goes “bum-bum-bum.” Ukrainian/ Russian people say that if you make a wish, while counting down the final seconds of the “old year”, it will definitely come true. Another tradition that some young people follow is, during the count down of the final seconds, to write a wish on a paper, then quickly burn it, throw it into a glass of sparkling wine, and drink the whole glass right at 12 o’clock. The wish is supposed to come true. Even I did it couple times. And what’s funny, my wishes did come true. Coincidence? Maybe.

Ukrainians and Russians don’t celebrate New Year once a year. They do it twice! It is all thanks to a transition from Julian calendar to Gregorian calendar after the October Revolution in October 1917 (Julian calendar). The Russian government issued a Decree that Wednesday, 31 January 1918 was to be followed by Thursday, 14 February 1918. They dropped 13 days from the calendar. Since then, Ukrainians and Russians celebrate “Old New Year” on January 14, just like a century ago. It’s considered to be an informal traditional Slavic Orthodox holiday. On this day people usually get together with their families and have a nice family time with traditional holiday meals, singing and dancing. “Old New Year’s Day” ends a New Year celebration till the next year.

Happy “Old New Year”, everyone ! Hope all your dreams come true this year!

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Public Holidays in Ukraine

Ukraine has several public holidays. If a holiday falls on Saturday or Sunday, it is usually observed on Monday.

Ukrainian Flag

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • January 7 – Orthodox Christmas
  • January 22 – Day of Unity and Liberty of Ukraine
  • March 8 – International Women’s Day
  • April 15 (in 2012) – Orthodox Easter
  • June 3 (in 2012) – Holy Trinity Day (Triytsya) – Orthodox Pentecost
  • May 1-2 – Labor Day
  • May 9 – Victory Day
  • June 28 – Constitution Day
  • August 24 – Independence Day

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (also called the Cabinet of Ukraine) announced that year 2012 will be a year of sport and healthy lifestyle in Ukraine.

On December 30, 2011 President Viktor Yanukovych declared January 22 as the Day of Unity and Liberty of Ukraine. He signed a Decree “On the Celebration of Some Memorable Dates and Professional Holidays.” He combined two holidays into one- Freedom Day previously celebrated on November 22, and Unity Day celebrated on January 22.

Also, Family Day was introduced, which will be celebrated annually on July 8.


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I miss you, Ukraine!

Ukrainian beautiful landscape

Today I miss Ukraine. My simple, hard to understand, sometimes forgotten, and unnoticed country. It’s rich in history and culture, traditions and a colorful folklore. Breathtaking landscapes, forests, fields…

Ukrainian countryside

It’s all in me, within my soul.

I think of golden fields and rivers crystal blue. I think of all the simple things you have, Ukraine. Your easy-walking-everywhere-streets, your not so easy-driving-broken-roads, that even make my husband curse. I heard they say that you have crazy drivers and bad roads- oh yes, you do. But even so, at least you are a walking-country, with easy hop on public transportation that helps me get around quickly. I love your cheap convenient trains that take me anywhere, anytime I want to go.

Mykhailivskyy Cathedral (St. Michael) in Kyiv

For $20 I can get an overnight adventure on the rails. For 25 cents (2 Hryvnia) I can enjoy your fast and lively metro. I also like to take a walk, and go through beautiful green parks. Then stop and look at golden domes of many of your Orthodox cathedrals, churches, chapels…

And when my stomach asks for fresh organic food I go to market that’s around every corner. The quality is great, and price is quite affordable for many. And either it is winter or it’s spring, there is a lush variety of fresh produce and dairy products too. I love Ukrainian cuisine. That’s where my heart and stomach are. They both approve my choice.

Galyna's home made "Syrnyky"

I always crave for certain things like “Borsch”/ “Borscht” (beet based soup), “Holubtsi” (cabbage rolls with meat and rice inside), “Varenyky” (stuffed dumplings), “Chicken Kiev” ( fried rolled chicken breast filled with garlic butter and herbs), “Syrnyky” (cheese pancakes- I’m truly addicted to these!), “Deruny” (potato pancakes), “Mlyntsi” (crepes filled with cottage cheese- my favorite, or meat, or mushrooms). Yum! Oh, and the cakes! The cakes in Ukraine are just seduction for sweet lovers. No need to say how popular “Kiev Cake” is with its two layers of meringue and hazelnuts, and butter cream like filling, and chocolate glaze. This is a favorite USSR cake. And everybody loves it.

Ukrainian National Opera House in Kiev

And when my stomach is full my soul is craving for some cultural and spiritual food. That’s when I choose ballet, or opera, or anything from cinemas, museums, galleries, amusement parks, or simply walking on the streets. Whatever my soul is craving at the moment. My list can go on and on.

My home town Oleksandriia, Ukraine

So, why I miss Ukraine today? I guess it’s simply due to rain. It rains today, and it reminds me of my world. My rainy country, my Ukraine. I miss my family that’s almost 6000 miles away from me, my friends that share the same passions that I do, and their happy smiles. I simply miss walking everywhere, enjoying fresh air, instead of air-conditioned car air flow. I miss many things. But I’m happy here.

Streets of Oleksandriia, Ukraine

I chose to live here. I chose this country because that’s where my life is, that’s where my husband is, my new big family, and new friends. It’s just the rain that takes my mind so far away. It’s just the rain that makes me think of you, Ukraine…

Categories: All Things Ukrainian | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments
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