The Symbolism Behind Ukraine’s National Flower Explained

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  The Symbolism Behind Ukraine’s National Flower Explained

Despite being such an important part of Ukraine’s landscape and economy, sunflowers are not native to the country. In fact, they’re not native to Europe at all. Sunflowers are from North America, according to the Alternative Field Crops Manual, thought to be domesticated around 3000 years ago by American Indian tribes. From there, the crop spread north and south from Canada to Mexico.

Seeds were imported to Europe, where the flower was considered a curiosity until the people of Ukraine and western Russia adopted the plant as their own and began cultivating it in earnest. According to the cultural and travel website MIR, sunflowers became popular there for religious reasons. The Orthodox Church forbid the use of butter or lard during the season of Lent, traditionally a time of sacrifice. Sunflower oil, made from a newly-introduced plant, was not specifically forbidden. Therefore by 1800, Ukraine and western Russia had fields upon fields of sunflowers to provide homegrown oil for Lent.

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