Ukrainian vertep: Discover mysterious tradition of Ukrainian vertep

17:03 Dec. 22, 2016

Discover mysterious tradition of Ukrainian vertep

Ukrainians organize vertep celebrations (UNIAN)

UT gathers festive pictures of Christmas vertep celebrations

Ukrainian vertep is a crucial element of authentic Christmas theatrical performance. In older times, people referred to vertep as to a little portable puppet theater. It was a wooden box either one of two storeyed.  It appeared in Ukraine in the latter half of 16th century.

In modern times, vertep is understood as Christmas theatrical performance. Ukrainians dress as various national characters during Christmas season and reenact the plays of vertep. The most symbolic element in these plays is a star.

Read more: Signature Christmas song 'Shchedryk' turns 100 years

A star is a traditional element of Christmas vertep and ritual of kolyada. Octagonal star came to Ukrainian tradition from pagan times. However, it is closely connected to Bethlehem star, which symbolizes the birth of Jesus. 

Each region in Ukraine had its own specific way of making Christmas star. Normally, they are made from wood and decorated with colorful ribbons and tassels.




Vertep has specific main characters, including Deacon, Baba (Ukrainian middle-aged woman), Moscal (a character from Moscow), Gypsy and Barkeeper. However, the most positive protagonist of the theatre is Zaporozhets – a young lad from Zaporizhye, who always makes witty jokes. 

UT has gathered the images of traditional vertep that Ukrainians organized on Christmas. Take a look at merry celebrations in our photo gallery below. 

Read more: Ukraine Today's Christmas special

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