Homeland Chernobrivtsy

Родина чернобривцев

When I first came to India and Nepal back in 2009, I was I am touched by how many “our” Chernobrivtsy (Ukrainian name for marigolds) they have. They not only decorated home flower beds, but were also actively used in religious rituals. Garlands of bright orange flowers organically looked both at the Hindu saints of the sadhu and near the Buddhist stupas. Well, I thought, it’s not in vain that we are INDO-Europeans – we have common ancestors (restless Aryans) and many common traditions, including love for Chernobrivtsy. Unfortunately, I am not well versed in Ukrainian folklore and folk traditions, but the fact that Chernobrivtsy are one of our national fetishes (like a cherry orchard near a white hut under a thatched roof) is known even to me.

And suddenly today, in the process of working on an article about Nepalese new year (celebration which is impossible to imagine without orange flower garlands) I learn that Chernobrivtsy’s homeland is South America. Accordingly, they could not get to Ukraine or India before the Columbus voyage, but rather even much later. A small googling session confirmed my hypothesis – marigolds came to Europe in the 16th century, and they got to us only in the 18th century. It turns out that both Ukrainian and Nepalese love for Chernobrivtsy is an extremely young phenomenon (by historical standards).

Чернобривцы в Непале

You understand that this fact instantly deprives the worship of Tagetes erecta (the Latin name for our flowers) of the lion’s share of sacredness. On what, then, to build a national identity?

If it needs to be artificially built at all (which I strongly doubt), then I think it would be useful to choose people as a fulcrum, and not birch trees, sunsets and other elements of the landscape. For example, do self-hypnosis and start convincing yourself of innate enterprise, cheerfulness and hard work :) And you can admire flowers simply for their beauty, without any attempts to assign yourself (your people) the exclusive right to love this biological species.


P.S. while I was working on this note, I always wanted to write the word Chernobrivtsy in Ukrainian, or at least through “Y”. And then the “and” in the middle of the word terribly cuts the ear. Almost like “piIvo” from the famous joke.

And finally, the text of the song “Chornobrivtsi” by Vladimir Vermenich and Nikolai Singaevsky

Marigolds were sown by mother
In my dawn region.
And she taught freckled girls to sing
About your blooming hope.

When I look at those marigolds,
I see an old mother.
I see your hands, my mother,
I hear your grace, dear.

I know separations and meetings,
I saw it in someone else’s side
Marigolds from the native region,
What did you sow in the spring.

They fly to our field
Cranes from distant lands.
Both flowers and fate bloom
On my Ukrainian land.

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