25 mar 2010

21st of March - start wiosny

A very old pagan tradition of celebrating the end of winter remains important in Poland. Now we don't fight with the cruel gods or don't praise the good ones but the 21st of March is still special. The old Slavic folk custom of burning and drowning Marzanna on the last day of winter is still alive. It's performed mostly by children at primary school who make a puppy of this pagan goddess of winter and death. They drown it in river (under teachers' supervision). It's a ritual that symbolizes the passage of seasons. In the past the Catholic Church wanted to prohibid it but somehow didn't succeed. Drowning Marzanna remains one of very few Polish celebrations that are not connected with Christianity (we have almost only national or religious holidays). Most pagan signs vanished or were eliminated by the "new faith". Unfortunately we don't know much about the Slavic mythology. Only specialists analyse what is left from the past. But it's too big topic for today.

Drowning Marzanna:

The 21st of March is not only the day of spring but also truant's day (dzień wagarowicza). Theoretically teachers accept pupils who avoid school this day but in reality many people (should) come. To make it more bearable you can dress up in a funny or weird way or put on a lot of make up. Boys often try girls' clothes and accesories:) Sometimes lessons last shorter or are replaced by competitions and pupils' performances.

The 21st of March is also a good occasion for any other joyful event. I really enjoyed the idea of giving tickets to theatres, cinemas and museum in return for recyclable materials. In Warsaw it mobilized many people. If you live in Cracow or Wrocław it's an upcoming event so collect newspapers, bottles or batteries:) More info here.

I'm so glad spring has come back:) My bike waited 5 months for good weather.

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