Folk customs and rites arose in prehistoric times and evolved through the centuries of Ukrainian history, blending in many cases with Christian rites. They can be divided into: (1) familial customs and rites, which consist of birth, marriage, and burial rites; (2) seasonal-productive customs and rites, which are tied to farming, herding, and hunting tasks; and (3) communal customs and rites, which mark certain events in the life of the community.
With the spread of modern civilization and urban culture, as well as the changes triggered by the two world wars, the folk customs and rites in Ukraine have been greatly transformed. Recently a persistent effort is being made to revive folk rites. In the last few decades the country people have been turning to ancient folk customs and rites such as New Year's rites and its special carols (shchedrivky); spring rites and songs (vesnianky); the procession of nymphs and Kupalo festival, which are associated with harvest celebration (obzhynky); marriage rites: celebrations of birth, involving godparents and christening linen: and farewells to army. These customs and rites, like the Christianized customs and rites are tied to ancient ancestral beliefs, symbols, and images.
The New Year, particularly New Year's Eve, was celebrated with a rich repertoire of folk rituals. Their primary purpose was to secure a bountiful harvest and the family's health and happiness. The key rituals were the eating of kutia, children's caroling, the polaz (bringing cattle into the house), walking Malanka around the village, fortunetelling and forecasting the weather for the next year, and the symbolic sowing of wheat.