There’s a common misconception that all the nations of the former USSR are Russian, including Ukraine. But this is wrong. First of all, it is worth mentioning that Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities, its foundation dates back to the year 482AD (in 1982 it was the 1,500th anniversary of Kiev). Secondly, Ukraine has its own rich history and has always been significant not only for the Russian Empire, but also for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Austria-Hungary and even the Ottoman Empire. All in all, despite the fact that Ukraine gained its independence only in 1991, it has had its unique customs and traditions for many centuries.
Another misperception about Ukraine concerns the similarity of Ukrainian and Russian languages. Truthfully, these two languages are as identical as English and Dutch, for example! Ukrainian and Russian have different grammar, phonetics, alphabet and history of origin. So, why do Ukrainians speak Russian? Because they were raised bilingual. Meanwhile, Russians can hardly understand the meaning of a sentence in Ukrainian!
As a lot of people associate Ukraine with Russia, they also think that the climate in both countries is the same. But the freezing temperatures and snow only appear during winter. Ukraine is located in the heart of Europe, and is even more southern than Poland or Germany. Accordingly, spring and autumn seasons are fairly mild, while summer is hot and sunny enough to swim in the Black Sea!
Not only foreigners but also some citizens from other parts of Ukraine believe that people from the west of the country are hostile. They say that residents of Lviv are banderivtsi (a word derived fromUkrainian politician and nationalist Stepan Bandera’s surname), characterised by extreme radical-nationalist views. Although, those who have actually visited Lviv note the opposite – welcoming and friendly locals.
Although borscht and salo are traditional dishes of Ukrainian cuisine, they are not the only ones locals put on their dining tables. It is quite rich and fatty, so not the best choice of an everyday meal. Salo is often encouraged to be kept at home (mostly in the freezer), as it works well as a great appetiser, when cooking roast meat or even as a main dish.
Nowadays, this stereotype outrages Ukrainians. A generation or two ago, maybe it was a tendency for local women to marry rich foreigners, as it was a sort of escape from the Soviet borders. This trend was also provoked by the men, looking for Ukrainian ladies who, due to that other stereotype, are very beautiful! But for the current young generation, this is no longer relevant, as they are really patriotic and hard-working.
The rumours about Ukrainians drinking a lot of vodka, and only vodka, are incorrect. Yes, Ukraine is popular abroad for its vast production of vodka, but it does not mean that locals do not drink anything else. In the country, there are also a number of wineries and factories that produce various alcoholic spirits, such as cognac and liquor. The local brand of champagne (Artemivske and Soviet) and wine (Shabo and Koblevo) and are considered to be good-quality!