The CYM Uniform:
A post-Congress look at what's happening
The last several years have seen a debate about the future of the CYM uniform.
Many sumivtsi feel that the time has come to change the design of CYM's
uniform, which some feel is outdated and needs to be modernized. Others
feel that the CYM uniform has served us well for many years, and
feel that it is become a tradition that needs no improvement or change.
Follow along as we recall a few hilights of this issue's history.
In the beginning...
In the beginning, there was no CYM uniform. CYM was founded in 1925 by a group
of young men who understood the need to protect their identity from the enemy
in the midst of their battle for Ukraine's independence. CYM was a secret
organization whose existence depended on the anonymity of its members.
The "Blue & White" and the "Blue & Blue"
After the difficult years of the late 1920's and early 1930's in Ukraine, CYM experienced its rebirth
among those who had emigrated from Ukraine following
World War II. In 1946, in Germany, the organization adopted a uniform consisting of a white button-down
shirt with collar and shoulder-straps. Men wore dark blue trousers while women wore skirts of the same
This simple style was adopted for mainly practical considerations -- in the first years
of rebuilding CYM, coordination of materials and manufacture was difficult across many countries, and
it was reasoned that all members could easily obtain white shirt and navy trousers or skirt.
Additionally, all CYM members (regardless of age) wore a navy blue tie.
This design was standardized as oseredky were started in American, Canada and other
The uniform of the 1940's and 1950's.
White shirt, dark blue trousers/skirt.
For a short period of time beginning in 1955 in America, the white dress shirt was abandoned and
a newly adopted light blue shirt complemented CYM's dark blue trowsers and skirts.
All other aspects of the uniform remained unchanged.
Europe opts for a unique style
Meanwhile, as the Americas wore blue and white, in 1948 CYM's Tsentral'nyj Komitet
(or Central Committee, the precursor to the Tsentral'na Uprava, or Central Executive,
which would decades later be renamed to Svitova Uprava, or World Executive)
made a not completely successful attempt to introduce its own innovative design.
Official documents issued by the Komitet dating
back to 1948 describe the CYM uniform, which was worn in Europe,
as consisting of black cuffed trousers (or black woolen skirt for women),
a khaki shirt with black tie (for all ages), dark brown stockings for women (white socks in summer), and
a mazepynka, or cap, with colored stripes or roping, designating the wearer's
position of responsibility within the organization.
Although this uniform description is quoted in Central Committee documents even as late as 1953,
it was implemented only in Europe but truly never caught on elsewhere and its
mazepynka and black necktie and trousers were later abandoned.
The mazepynky of
Europe's uniform were
sewn in Belgium. (1948)
European uniform insignia,
including gold stars.
All patches were manufactured
in England. (1950)
CYM gets a new look
With time, there came a call among the membership for a uniform that would more
appropriately reflect the look that sumivtsi wanted, and a single design for all
countries of the world.
Near the middle of the 1950s a number of proposals were floated at the national level in
several countries, but some considerable care was taken before adopting a particular uniform
to insure that it would have neither too militaristic nor too casual a look.
Canada was first to adopt a new design, but American followed shortly afterwards with a
variation which was soon to be accepted by the national CYM organizations in all
countries. A year later, the Tsentral'na Uprava
formally approved the Canadian-American design: khaki trousers or skirt, a lighter khaki
dress shirt with shoulder straps, a beret and a navy blue tie.
For approximately a year, only adult CYM members, or druzhynnyky, wore the new style of uniform,
while children continued to wear the older navy-and-white. A change was soon formally adopted
to make the uniform identical for all, regardless of age.
It was only in the very late 1950's that a group of leading CYM activists proposed the last
revision to the uniform that that decade would bring -- and it would ultimately become the uniform
we know today. That change was a color classification for neckties, to designate age groupings --
green for the youngest children, burgundy for youths,
blue for young adults and brown for seniors over 35.
The colors of the tie remain to today (except for the age of seniors, which was later changed from 35 to 50).
As illustrated in the Pravylnyk Yunatstva, first published in 1961.
The XV World Congress of CYM in 1996
By the mid-1990's, several modifications and variations could be seen in the
uniforms worn around the world as a result of color variations in supplied
fabrics, availability of some materials, and changing perceptions and
civilian dress fashions.
The World Executive decided to investigate possible solutions to the
perceived problems with the standard uniform. Not long before the XV World Congress
in 1996, the World Executive made a call for proposals, which were presented at the
Congress. Germany and Canada presented two very different ideas for change.
After much heated debate at the 1996 Congress, the issue was left
unresolved because the consensus of an overwhelming majority could not be
won on an appropriate course of action.
Work (and debate) on the issue continued within the World Executive...
The CYM uniform as it is worn today
We asked what you thought
When the CYMnet on-line Survey was born in May of 2001, the
Survey's first question
asked whether sumivtsi felt a need
for change in our uniform. Of a total of 253 replies in this unscientific
survey, 198 (or roughly 78%) indicated a desire for some sort of change, although even with
only a small number of broad choices to pick from, there was no clear consensus among the votes
as to how to change the uniform.
(Note: Because of the survey's anonymity, it's also possible that those feeling strongly
may have voted more than once, so interpretion of the results must be undertaken
with that in mind!)
2001 brings CYM's XVI World Congress
In November of 2001, sumivtsi from around the world gathered in Chicago to attend the
XVI World Congress of CYM.
The general agreement of the delegates of the Organizational Commission was that since last Congress,
the uniform had grown even more disparate among the countries where CYM has a presence.
A uniform design proposal was submitted to the 2001 Congress' Organizational Commission
by the American delegates from Cleveland, Ohio (see photos). This latest proposal differed from both
of the previous proposals at the 1996 Congress.
A uniform design proposed at the XVI World Congress
in November, 2001 by Cleveland, USA delegation.
Although ultimately members of the Commission (and later
delegates at the Congress) did not approve a specific uniform design, the Commission
did propose a resolution which was subsequently passed by a two-thirds
binding majority of Congress delegates, and is in effect today. This resolution
obligates the current World Executive to rule on a design decision
no later than its first Plenum (which, according to the By-Laws of the
World Executive, must occur by April, 2003). The full text of this
November 18, 2001
Resolutions of the Organizational Commission
of the XVI World Congress of CYM
14. The XVI World Congress of CYM has made a determination to change the
CYM uniform, so as to modernize it and so that an adequate supply of uniform
parts may be obtained.
The World Executive is required by the XVI World Congress of CYM
to review all submitted uniform proposals no later than June 30, 2002,
including the proposal accepted by the Organizational Commission of this
Congress, and make an appropriate final ruling regarding a uniform design
by the next CYM Plenum.
What happens next?
In the following months, CYM's World Executive will consider proposals submitted by National Executives,
including the design proposal submitted by the Cleveland, USA delegation
to the World Congress. Stay tuned to find out what happens!...