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Ukrainian Flora and Fauna Come Alive with Myth

Christened with the moniker, “a land of golden wheat”, Ukraine is undoubtedly one of the most fertile agricultural regions of Europe. With over 30,000 species of plant life, natural vegetation covers one third of the country, and nearly 45,000 species of wildlife roam the geography of Ukraine, as well. Elk, bear, wild boar, and wolves inhabit the dense forests. The coastal region of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov is a birdwatchers paradise with herons, pelicans, gulls, and martins populating the craggy coastal cliffs. Yet, physical variety is only part of Ukraine’s flora and fauna story.

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Features

Ukrainian Libraries Sequester the Origins of Written Language and History

Often a fixture of childhood or a place of refuge during adulthood, libraries around the world share the pungent smell of binder’s glue, the brittleness of worn texts, and the familiar silence of learning. Yet, reading was once the sole intellectual providence of religious men, and like other regions of the world, in Ukraine the relationship between faith and written language spawned this country’s first libraries.

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Features

Tracking the Soulful Traveler Like a Panther

Sometimes, in the month of November, a faint outline of Ukraine casts itself against the steel gray sky, appearing wordlessly in the soulful traveler’s rearview mirror. The faint, porous Ukrainian borders materialize long after the sun begins to wither. Only when the air is motionless, the sky, so crisp, that the teeth ache, and the corn stalks have disappeared under the plow does one detect the foreign vista behind. The film stills rolling across the plains are not part of this century. One does not see the effects of Chernobyl on the bruised land or drink the poisoned water. Most cannot picture the pinched faces of young girls with little to believe in but the familiar strains of pop music and the hands of their boyfriends between their thighs. The empty grocery store shelves and the derelict buildings of a once grand and fortuitous country do not cross the view.

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Features

Ukrainian Chocolate

Dentists may despair at the international obsession with chocolate, but no matter one’s nationality this sweet blend of cocoa and sugar is beguiling to palettes everywhere. Svitoch, one of Ukraine’s most popular brands of chocolate, has fed this country’s history of chocolate obsession since the 8th century and continues to satisfy cravings today.

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Features

Pysanky Eggs and Ukrainian Easter Traditions

Easter bunnies hop across tables in America. Solemn Christian remembrances of Biblical stories of the resurrection capture the attention of many believers in spring as well. While the exquisitely painted and decorated pysanky eggs may be a signature of Ukrainian Easter tradition across the world, a host of other customs rooted in pagan belief defines this rite of spring.

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Features

Ukraine’s Parks Preserve Love and Poetry, Flora and Fauna

Gladiators spar with Greek Gods. A lion creeps through the fall leaves ready to pounce. On a bench an iron coat lies abandoned. And if you whisper at one end of the white colonnade amidst the bare trees, another will hear your secrets 34 meters away. Oleksandriya Park had always been a place of solace and melancholy, joy and relief through the centuries, and this natural Ukrainian hideaway offers travelers an opportunity to quietly walk through a country’s long history in an undisturbed, peaceful environment.

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Features

Ukrainian International Horse Breeding and Riding

Little girls dream of owning one. Farmers once relied on their burly strength. Soldiers fired bullets from their stolid backs in wars past. The horse, mankind’s honorable equine partner and friend has evolved in both purpose and breeding through the centuries. Indeed, horse breeding itself, a tradition for over 6,000 years, is as much an art form as a scientific experiment. In the case of Ukrainian horse aficionados, the wedding of both approaches has proven successful.

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Features

Black Tea and Vodka Inspire the Ukrainian Palette

A Ukrainian proverb suggests that coffee should be dark as night and sweet like a woman, and while Starbucks tempts the world’s taste buds with elaborate concoctions of coffee, Ukrainians choose black tea or vodka. Consuming either drink for Ukrainians is as much a daily commitment to conversation as it is to culinary choice.

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