Ukraine Constitution Day: Student Observations

Published: May 25, 2020

Constitution Day in Ukraine is celebrated on June 28th. Celebrated since 1996, this day commemorates the anniversary of the approval by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) of the Constitution of Ukraine. Before 2014 and the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, the holiday’s importance and observance were minimal and around 10% of Ukrainians believed it should be a working day. However, since 2014, it has been gaining favor in Western and Eastern Ukraine.

 

Where did you go to experience the holiday? What did you see and what did you do there?

 

Jacob Mauser (Kyiv, Summer 2019): I went first to the Golden Gates, where things were business as usual. However, small changes struck me. The usual flower sellers had stocked bouquets of blue-and-yellow flowers, and every now and then the strains of the Ukrainian national anthem issued from businesses on the square. Excited people chattered in Russian as they waited to take selfies in front of the Gates. As far as I could tell, these were natives, hoping to get a picture with one of the national icons in the background. Patriotism was the air, even if its scent was hard to detect at first. From there, I walked to Maidan Plaza. Here the mood was more obvious; the police had cordoned off a large section of the road in front of the square, and people milled about, watching street performers, taking pictures, and enjoying the day’s cool weather. The crowd thickened in front of Maidan, as people lounged on stairs, picnic blankets, or the grass surrounding the Independence Monument.

 

What other events were held in the area? Were there other events to choose from either inside the city or outside?

 

Jacob Mauser (Kyiv, Summer 2019): I had heard rumors about many celebrations, but I had trouble digging up readily available information on when and where they might be. Research after the fact suggests that dispersed events, including concerts, parades, happened in many parks of the city.

 

Did you see any commercialization of this holiday?

 

Jacob Mauser (Kyiv, Summer 2019): Commercialism took less obvious forms than it might have in other places. A few places advertised themed sales, and one restaurant had a blue-and-yellow balloon arch outside to welcome holiday visitors. Souvenir stores advertised flag-colored items more than usual, everything from trinkets to vyshyvankas. Flower sellers hawked bouquets in the colors of the flag, and the usual suspects in busy city centers – street artists, performers, photographers, and all manner of more diverse street performers – all took advantage of the holiday crowds, but on the whole, compared to a Fourth of July celebration in America, Ukraine seems to keep things relatively relaxed.

 

What do locals think of the holiday? What does it mean to them, and how do they spend the day?

 

Jacob Mauser (Kyiv, Summer 2019): The celebration of Constitution Day is still a relatively new thing for many people, and it seems that there is not yet a solidified procedure for celebrating it. A woman in my apartment building was using her time off the visit Lviv, and many others who get the holiday off evidently flocked to the parks or took the time to enjoy resting at home. It looked as if there might be a parade near Maidan, but when I looked online to see I could find no information about such an event. For now, it seems that most people enjoy the day off the same way they would enjoy any other day off, though with perhaps a dash more patriotic spirit.

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