Vyshyvanka is traditional Ukrainian embroidery. Its colourful patterns on shirts and other pieces of garment have always had symbolic meaning referring to prosperity, luck and protection. At the outbreak of war with Russia it gained even deeper symbolism – it signifies continuation of Ukrainian culture in the face of destruction of cultural heritage. Refugees take vyshyvankas with them as a token of protection, similarly, soldiers go to war with embroidered pieces of cloth. They believe that vyshyvankas have magical power. War introduced new military textiles and patterns – alongside geometrical and floral ornaments there appear patterns of tanks, drones and bombs.
World Vyshyvanka Day is an international holiday dedicated to preserving the iconic Ukrainian embroidered shirt (known as “vyshyvanka”) as a symbol of the material and spiritual heritage of the Ukrainian people. The initiative began as a small student flash mob in Chernivtsi in 2006. The annual celebration led to the foundation of the NGO World Vyshyvanka Day in 2015. Every year on the third Thursday in May, Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine from more than 100 countries wear vyshyvanka in celebration of this heritage. The NGO World Vyshyvanka Day implements its activities through grants and crowdfunding actions.
Time of war strengthens political dimension of vyshyvanka and recognises vyshyvanka as the national symbol of revival. The World Vyshyvanka Day received European Heritage Award | Europa Nostra Award 2022 (category Citizens Engagement and Awareness-raising + Public Award) what expanded its impact in Europe.