Mar 6, 2024 | History, Tours

Honest Destinations: Babyn

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I am starting a new section of the blog: Honest Destinations.

All the experiences we included in our Ukraine heritage tours before the war and those we will include are always chosen carefully. Our trips are about discovering the mindset, local life, culture, and history through genuine communication with authentic local people passionate about their country.

We keep learning together with our customers and it’s absorbing. Honest Destinations will talk about the unique places and people that we have visited before and those I would like to include in our future Ukraine tours one day.

Hutsul Treasures in Babyn

I am sure you have heard a lot about Hutsuls, the Ukrainian highlanders. Maybe you have already researched your Ukrainian genealogy and your roots are Hutsul.

It’s best to learn more when you meet a real Hutsul.

Bohdan Petrychuk
Bohdan Petrychuk. Photo courtesy: all photos by

Bohdan Petrychuk lives in Babyn. He has been interested in the culture of his ancestors since childhood. He has got a handful of wonderful stories about his people and an amazing collection of over 2000 antique Hutsul items.

embroidered shirts
A unique “rukavivka” shirt from Babyn with embroidered sleeves

This is what Bohdan says about his passion and his people.

“This passion started with the fact that my grandparents had 5 siblings each. They all used to gather in our house often to have a kind of party. They talked about the old days and old people. I loved listening to those stories and asking questions. (…) My mother quarreled with me when I was a bachelor. You don’t know where you put your trousers but you know when each of the babas was born!!” 

“I already forgot when I went to the market for the last time. It’s because once I get there, I always spend all the money I have on old things. And I get angry afterward: what did I buy it all for?!”

Firmaky are wooden carved forms for imprinting patterns on cheese
Dukachi is a traditional Hutsul women's jewelry made of silver Austrian thalers of Empress Maria Theresa

“The women of our village who got married from the mid-1960s to the later 1980s usually had over 40 embroidered shirts in their dowry. My mother had 24. There’s no need to have that many these days as they don’t wear them too often. They make only ten but there’s more embroidery in them” 

“Our Grandfathers said: when a daughter got married, it was like you had a fire at home. She could take everything she wanted from the house to be her dowry.”

Bohdans shirts
Bohdan's collection of shirts

“My great-grandfather got married late because he had a married lover. His parents had nothing against it. This side of the hill was ours and that side is where the lover lived.  He went there to pasture the goats. He had 150 goats. People kept a lot of goats in the 19th century. That business broke when Austro-Hungary fell apart. People switched to having sheep and cows. So, he used to go to his lover until he was almost 30. Only then, they married him to my great-grandmother Helena quickly. She was thirteen. The first baby was born when she was fourteen. The great-grandfather was very jealous of her because his lover found another man. He and Helena had seven children together.”

“Our Babyn is a tough village. Miraculously, we were not evicted although the Soviets planned to send us to the Odesa province. They came from the Rozhyn village and began to destroy our houses. The village council and other people brought moonshine, potatoes, salted pork fat, and honey. People bribed their way out as best they could.” 

“When it was necessary to send someone to the Far East, the mayor sent his aunt who had cancer. She was an eighty-something-year-old woman, who was going to die anyway. Baba gathered her bags and left. She died somewhere in Karaganda. Our people who were in prison there said that she was even buried well.” 

photo collection
Bohdan’s collection of photos includes over 200 old pictures of Babyn citizens and the citizens of the neighbor villages

Bohdan’s museum can be one of the great destinations to include in a tour of Ukraine of Galicia. It can be an amazing and genuine encounter for people who are interested in their Ukrainian genealogy and learning about the culture of our ancestors.

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May you have any questions about your family history in Galicia or elsewhere in the west of Ukraine, or need help with your genealogy research, feel free to reach out.

Love from Ukraine.