Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ukraine Ranks Second Largest Fornology Audience

Ukrainian folk costume with lovely traditional hand embroidery.
Since I began my blog in May of 2011, the United States has been my biggest audience of Fornology readers by far. But from the start, the second place spot has been shared alternately by Great Britain, Canada, and Germany, with Australia occasionally making a run for the second place spot. But in 2013, I added a translator feature to Fornology's sidebar and noticed a change in my international audience ratings. 

Russia had always made my top ten audience list but now they were climbing up the ranks. France and China started to hit my blog list at roughly the same time, but second place seemed to belong to Russia and Germany for many months on my All-time category report. Then Turkey began to rise up the ranks of my top ten and showed an interest in what I was writing. Finally, in late 2013 and into early 2014, Ukraine started making it onto the listing.

This new audience began to bound up my top ten list. Finally it happened. Ukraine leaped into second place in every reported category for the last month (Now, Day, Week, Month, and All-time).  No other country had come on as strong and as fast as Ukraine. It struck me that I needed to find out more about these proud people who have suffered much at the hands of history.

Pageviews by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
United Kingdom

(All-time list as of October 13th, 2014)
Like most Americans, I am woefully ignorant about Ukraine, other than it has been having sovereignty problems with the Russians over Crimea, and they have been moving towards possible civil war. Unlike many Americans, I can find Ukraine on the map. It is in southeastern Europe bordering the Black Sea between Poland, Romania, and Moldova to the west and the Great Russian Bear to the east. Its capital city is Kiev (Kyiv), one of the oldest and largest cities in Europe. Ukraine is 603,550 square kilometers with a population of 45,000,000 people.

In high school, all we were taught in history class about "the Ukraine" was that it was the "Breadbasket of the Soviet Union," and its people were brutalized by the Soviets and the Nazis during World War II. Why Ukrainians have shown such a strong interest in my Fornology blog is a mystery to me, so I decided to learn more about them, their history, and their culture and pass that information on to my Fornology readers.

The Ukrainian National Flag
In recent history, Ukraine became independent from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) when that communist regime dissolved in 1991. It is on August 24th that Ukrainians celebrate their Independence Day. The national flag of Ukraine was adopted in 1992. It simply consists of two stripes arranged horizontally, one blue stripe on top representing the skies and rivers of Ukraine and a yellow stripe below symbolizing Ukraine's lush golden wheat fields. Ukraine has a fledgling constitutional republic struggling to maintain its country's independence from Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky, "Hetman of Ukraine", established an independent Ukraine after the uprising in 1648 against Poland.

Ukraine has an ancient history and its territory has changed hands and moved around many times since it was founded in 882 AD as Kievan Rus', a center for Slavic trade and culture. In 1240 AD there was a Mongol conquest, but by the 14th Century, the region was ruled by the Golden Horde, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and Poland before becoming a Cossack state in 1648. For much of the 18th and 19th Centuries, most of Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire, and the rest was controlled by the Austria-Hungary Empire.

Ukraine was free for a brief period after the Russian Revolution between 1917-1920. Ukraine became a republic of the Soviet Union from 1922 until 1991, when that communist regime collapsed. Check the link below for more detailed information and a timeline from CNN on Ukraine's ongoing political crisis.

Traditional Ukrainian cuisine
Ukrainian food is typically Eastern European. Hard cheeses, sausage, and borshch (beet soup), the national soup of Ukraine, are traditional dishes. Holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls), kovbasa (smoked or boiled sausage), and varenyky (dumplings with various meat, fruit, or vegetable fillings) are also part of traditional Ukrainian cuisine. Baked goods are bublik (similar to a bagel but bigger), babka (Easter bread made with sweet dough and dried fruit baked in a tall, cylindrical shape), and paska (traditional butter and egg rich Easter bread decorated with Easter symbols baked on top).

A Ukrainian folk art is Pysanka, decorated Easter eggs which are well-known the world over. Each region has its own traditional designs. They use the wax relief method to write intricate designs with beeswax to create symbolic patterns, next the eggs are dyed colors that also carry symbolic significance. The eggs are strongly tied to the Easter holiday and are painted during Holy Week to symbolize the rebirth of man and Jesus Christ's resurrection.

Woven goods with colorful embroidered motifs from around the country are found in traditional folk costumes worn for holidays and special occasions. Men's shirts and women's blouses and decorative vests are embroidered in brilliant colors with regional patterns, each with its own symbolic meaning.

Ukrainian customs and culture are heavily influenced by Christianity. Almost ninety percent of Ukraine's religious community is either Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, or Roman Catholic, though forty percent of its general population claim to be atheists. This is a residual effect of the Russification of Ukraine's population during Soviet domination to discourage Ukrainian national identity. But without their religious traditions to bind them through the dark times, Ukraine would long ago have lost its national identity, its heart, and its very soul. Even now, Ukraine struggles.

The Ukrainian people enjoy celebrations with family and friends, but as a people, they tend to be fatalistic because of their history and geography. Their country has been the corridor to Europe in the west and the gateway to Asia in the east since before written history. Their history is written in blood and is reflected in the Ukrainian anthem, Shche ne vmerla Ukraina (Ukraine has not yet died!). May Ukraine live long and prosper!

For more background on Ukraine's current political crisis with Russia, consult this CNN link:

Petrykivka - Ukrainian ornamental folk art documentary in the Ukraine language. If the audio distracts you, turn the sound down and enjoy the visuals: