Ukrainians who have come to York after fleeing the war in their home country have celebrated a national cultural event with singing, dancing and traditional dress.

Around 240 guests, including more than 70 children, came together to celebrate Vyshyvanka Day on Thursday, May 18, in the Merchant Taylors' Hall, in Aldwark, York.

Vyshyvanka Day is a cultural festival that has been held on the third Thursday of May in Ukraine since 2006 to celebrate Vyshyvanka clothing, which is the embroidered shirts and dresses iconic to the country.

York Press: Close up of VyshyvankaClose up of Vyshyvanka (Image: Barbara Lodge)

The clothing has been worn by Ukrainians for centuries, and each region of Ukraine has a specific Vyshyvanka pattern.

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The event is not associated with any religious holiday or tradition, except that those marking the day tend to wear the Vyshyvanka clothing. 

York Press: Choir group dressed in Vyshyvanka Choir group dressed in Vyshyvanka (Image: Newsquest)

Some of the 350 Ukrainians living in York following Russia's invasion of Ukraine came dressed in Vyshyvanka and were entertained by a parade of the clothing, live music performed by a band and a choir, and food provided by caterers Bradshaws of York.

Children had their faces painted, learnt circus skills courtesy of Circus Skills York, and were entertainment by Sunflower Kids Club.

York Press: Ukrainians in York celebrating Vyshyvanka DayUkrainians in York celebrating Vyshyvanka Day (Image: Yulia K)

There was also an exhibition of Vyshyvanka, which boasted clothing dating back 100 years.

The event was attended by the outgoing Mayor and Mayoress of York, Cllr David Carr and his wife Lynda Carr.

York Press: Vyshyvanka clothing worn by Ukrainians at the Merchant Taylors HallVyshyvanka clothing worn by Ukrainians at the Merchant Taylors Hall (Image: Yulia K)

Rebecca Russell, from York City of Sanctuary, said Vyshyvanka brings the Ukrainians a sense of pride in their history and traditions.


She said: "It was an amazing celebration and the party really took off and lasted until 9pm!

"When we (the charity) first met them last year, they were wearing their colourful, traditional clothing, and when we asked them about it they told us they were wearing it for Vyshyvanka Day."

York Press: Vyshyvanka Day in Merchant Taylors HallVyshyvanka Day in Merchant Taylors Hall (Image: Yulia K)

Sergiy, from the Ukrainians of York Society, said: "We wanted to have a positive event to show who we are. Ukraine is not just the gloom you see on the news.

"The band performing here tonight met here in York and range from 17 years old to their mid-40s. They have great talent and are playing a mix of traditionally Ukrainian and contemporary music.

York Press: The children's activities at the Vyshyvanka eventThe children's activities at the Vyshyvanka event (Image: Yulia K)

"From the beginning, the Ukrainians of York society came together to help them access information and support, many are still finding it hard to find work or accommodation, and we wanted to help make things easier for them.

"It is a gift from Merchant Taylors to host this event for us and help us organise this."