« 2020. № 4 (154)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2020. № 4 (154), 945—953

UDK 39:305-055.2 (477)




  • PhD, Associate Professor,
  • Department of Ethnology and Regional Studies,
  • Faculty of History,
  • Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
  • 64/13, Volodymyrska Street,
  • City of Kyiv, Ukraine, 01601
  • Contacts: e-mail:

Abstract. Introduction. Based on ethnological sources, the author explores the transition from wife to widowhood in the ethnic Ukrainian peasant culture of the mid-XIXth — early-XXth. Problem Statement. The author puts the attention on the role, social status but especially the sexuality of the young widow, the issue that has not been sufficiently studied in the Ukrainian ethnology. Purpose. The present study treats the lived experiences of young women from rural Ukrainian culture who have experienced the loss of a spouse. The key purpose is to show how widowhood influenced social, private and especial sexual life of Ukrainian women more than 200 years ago. Method. The ethnographic, historical, and folklore materials, which have been collected in this study, were analyzed by the feminist method. The author accepts and shares feminist ideas, patriarchal power, economic exploitation, sexuality, and reproduction are key mechanisms to understand the oppression of women in the past and modern society. Results. The keys message of the article is that the widow women were a subject of strict patriarchal control in social, private and intimate life. Despite the fact that the death of a husband enabled women to transcend the gender divide performing an unusual mix of male and female roles in public life, women’s independent was untypical and dangerous for the patriarch. So society pushes the women for second marriage but it was not easy task for practical realization. In the traditional worldview, the young widow had a bad reputation and has viewed as witch. Also, Widowed woman was marginalized socially and ritually in traditional society. That and other reasons made single women unattractive for marriage.

Keywords: woman, widow, widowhood, patriarchal, traditional culture, Ukraine.

Received 9.06.2020


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