A woman who fled from Ukraine to the UK is marking Vyshyvanka Day, which celebrates her country’s embroidered shirts that are part of its national dress, with a giant shirt.
Kristina Korniiuk, 34, of Kyiv, arrived in Cambridge earlier this month and is being hosted by her best friend Rend Platings, whose house is painted in the colours of the Ukraine flag.
Vyshyvanka Day, held each year on the third Thursday of May, aims to preserve the folk traditions of wearing the embroidered Ukrainian clothing called vyshyvanka.
Patterns on the garments can represent a person’s family background and regional heritage.
Ms Korniiuk said she wanted to mark the day to “show the world how beautiful we are and how proud we are and that in spite of the fear we believe in our victory”.
She is making a giant vyshyvanka shirt from a £9 king size Asda white flat bed sheet, painting on the patterns, and hopes seven people will fit inside it.
Ms Korniiuk, who works as a Spanish teacher, said Vyshyvanka Day is a “very important day in Ukraine”.
“Usually it’s a very beautiful day because everybody there wears their vyshyvanka in the office, at school, everywhere,” she said.
“It’s so beautiful, so colourful, so authentic.
“Now we’re here and of course our country is in this terrible war so people there can’t really wear their vyshyvankas and people here who left their homes in February and March, of course it’s not like they have any clothes to wear so we cannot even think of vyshyvankas.
“That’s why we thought that we still want to celebrate this day as it’s very important and we want to show ourselves and also to show the world that, we’re very afraid of course, but in spite of that we feel very strong.
“We feel very proud of who we are and we want to show the world how beautiful we are and how proud we are and that in spite of the fear we believe in our victory.
“We feel this huge hope and we know we will win and it’s just a matter of time.”
She has invited people from different countries to gather outside King’s College in Cambridge from 4.30pm on Thursday wearing vyshyvanka.
She said people do not need to be from Ukraine to join in, adding: “If you are helping, you are Ukrainian – not in your passport but in your state of your mind, in your heart, you are Ukrainian.”
Ms Platings said there will be celebrations, with people invited to sign the giant shirt.
“Then it gets sent to Berlin in Germany, then they send it onto another country and so on,” she said.
Ms Korniiuk was granted a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme after mother-of-one Ms Platings spent 12 days on a hunger strike, which she continued until she reached 21 days in total.
The pair, who have been friends for three years after meeting in a restaurant, had last seen each other at the beginning of February.