From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka

From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka

The traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts called vyshyvanka, once relegated to souvenir shops and folk dance performances, made a huge comeback in 2015. The shirts date back at least a hundred years, when the embroidery on the vyshyvanka’s sleeves, front, neck and cuffs was different in each small region of Ukraine; different colors and varying motifs told a detailed story about the person wearing it. Luba Rudenko, Director of MIR’s Ukraine affiliate office, was born and raised in Western Ukraine, where the Hutsul tradition of embroidering and wearing peasant shirts was particularly strong. Here’s her take on the sudden popularity of Ukrainian folk motifs. Read More


Singing the Plate Song in Uzbekistan: Katta Ashula

Singing the Plate Song in Uzbekistan: Katta Ashula

In Uzbekistan, traditional folk songs are known as Ashula. Ashula reflects the diverse influences that shaped the region’s music as well as the inner feelings, hopes, loves and attitudes of the natives. One of the types of Ashula is called Katta Ashula, which literally means big or great song. The tradition of Katta Ashula is popular in the Fergana Valley, where many languages and cultures come together. Folk singers from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have mastered this traditional style. It requires special training, a strong voice and the ability to improvise - which is illustrated in this video. Read More




Dancing in Khiva, Uzbekistan: The Khalfi Family (VIDEO)

Dancing in Khiva, Uzbekistan: The Khalfi Family (VIDEO)

The revolving troupe of performers in the Khalfi family (featured in our video) has been singing, dancing, and drumming for years now in Khiva, Uzbekistan. As the younger generation grows up and moves on to other pursuits, there always seem to be more little ones ready to join their relatives and add to the fun of the performances. Read More


Christmas Traditions in Poland: Waiting for Wigilia

Christmas Traditions in Poland: Waiting for Wigilia

Christmas Eve is celebrated in countless ways around the world, beyond simply giving and receiving presents. In Poland, Christmas Eve is festive and there's a bit of magic, as well as profound meaning in every holiday ritual. With MIR, you can celebrate it by joining a Polish family in their Warsaw home for the intimate Christmas Eve feast, Wigilia, complete with a home-cooked meal of 12 different traditional dishes. Read More


Classic Celebrations: A Traditional Armenian Wedding

Classic Celebrations: A Traditional Armenian Wedding

MIR Sales/Client Services Specialist Amy Stidger has lived in Armenia and experienced various wedding traditions there. She recommends that you never pass up the chance to accept an Armenian wedding invitation. Armenia is a small and mountainous country of peaks and high plateaus cut by river valleys. It was the first to embrace Christianity as a state religion; powerful old stone churches are silhouetted on the hilltops and tucked into the valleys. This grand history lends itself to faithful observances. For most Armenians, weddings are very formal, joyous occasions full of long-standing traditions staunchly upheld. Read More



Volya: Bringing Belarus to Seattle, through Folk Songs and Traditions

Volya: Bringing Belarus to Seattle, through Folk Songs and Traditions

Volya is a native Belarusian. She was born and raised in the capital city of Minsk. Now, years later and a continent away, Volya is the lead singer in a Belarusian folk group that she organized, VOLYA, based in Seattle, Washington. The singers proudly wear hand-made traditional folk costumes that were donated to Volya by Belarusian villagers. Watch her performance of the winter solstice song, “Kaza,” at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle. Read More


Just an Old Sweet Song: Georgian Polyphonic Singing (VIDEOS)

Just an Old Sweet Song: Georgian Polyphonic Singing (VIDEOS)

Singing is important in the South Caucasus country of Georgia – as important and as ubiquitous as the fantastic food, great wine and heartfelt toasts that the country is famous for. Here are some video samples of folk songs and chants from different regions of Georgia. Read More