Archive for the ‘Polish Traditions’ Category

How to make traditional Polish Christmas decorations – video tutorials.

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

There is something, without which, the whole ambiance of Christmas wouldn’t be the same. This is choinka (Christmas tree). This is a feast for our, and definitely for our youngest generation’s eyes!

Magdalena and Anna, from our PolishOrigins Team, have prepared a special video presentation about making traditional Christmas decorations, out of paper and straw. These are patterns and techniques passed down from our grandparents and local artists, at the workshops organized by the  Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw,  in which Magdalena and her 9-year-old daughter participated last year.

 

 

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What My Ancestors Ate and Drank in Middle Ages?

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

If you ask a contemporary Pole what are traditional Polish dishes, certainly, among others, he will mention ‘schabowy? (pork chops) with potatoes or ?bigos?. But only a few know that both dishes are quite new to Polish cuisine.

Potatoes were brought to Europe from America, initially as ornamental plants. Their culinary advantages had not been noticed until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In Poland, potatoes became widespread by the end of nineteenth century, which was slightly more than 100 years ago. ?Kotlet schabowy? became popular in the PRL period (Communist Poland 1945 – 1989), and it is a copy of the Austrian Viennese style schnitzel (not Wiener Schnitzel which is made from veal). ?Bigos? was already known in the sixteenth century, but, in fact, it was rather similar to contemporary ?goulash? ? just pieces of chopped meat. It did not evolve into the contemporary form ? dishes made of cabbage and meat ? until the eighteenth century.

Polish Cuisine. Picture source: smakiwroclawia.pl.

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Christmas Eve – Wigilia

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

“What has become a habit let it remain a habit, and this, what was, what we heard from our fathers, or we have seen already  by ourselves, pass to those who will come after us; remembering that where the past was, there, also, the future will be…”  Leon Potocki 1854.

Christmas is one of the most wonderful times during the whole year, and the most important moment during this time is one night – Christmas Eve. We call it Wigilia in Poland. White snow outside the window sparkles with frost and the dark sky has more stars than ever.  Among them is the most important one, which we can see as the first star this evening, letting us know that in Bethlehem, as over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ is born… such a little baby, but so important for the whole world. Every year during this special night, happiness is with us, as it was with our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents many years ago. Besides special feelings, we have also many traditions which tie us firmly to our ancestors, and which will tie future generations to us. Thanks to these traditions, we know who we are.

 

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Room prepared for Wigilia. Exhibition ifrom and open air museum in Radom. Picture source: http://www.muzeum-radom.pl/

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Holy Week and Easter – part 2.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday was (and still is) the day of blessing water, fire and food. On this day a big bonfire was prepared in front of the church. After the ceremony of blessing the fire, everyone wanted to take home at least a small part of a burning twig to protect their home and land against storms and hail. During the first spring plowing farmers spilled ashes from this bonfire onto the ground.

After the ceremony of blessing fire there was the ceremony of blessing water. Everybody took some blessed water home. The men sprinkled everything in the house and farmyard including the animals with it. The leftover water was kept until the next Holy Saturday. It was used in case of illness and at time when God’s blessing was needed.

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Pisanki

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Holy Week and Easter – part 1.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

“What has become a habit let it remain a habit, and this, what was, what we heard from our fathers, or we have seen already by ourselves, pass to those who will come after us; remembering that where the past was, there, also, the future will be…”  Leon Potocki 1854.

Each year we celebrate Easter sometime between March 21 and April 25 on the Sunday that comes just after the first full moon of Spring. This date was fixed during the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Many other holy days in the church’s calendar are determined by this date, for example, the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday) or Palm Sunday.

Easter is the most important holiday for Christians. It comes in spring when, thanks to the sun, day by day the earth become warmer and warmer and each farmer is ready to start work on his land, as our ancestors did. That is one of the reasons why Easter time was so important in peasants’ beliefs. The weather during each day of Holy Week was thought to herald the weather during the whole year: Wednesday indicated what the weather would be like in spring; Maundy Thursday, the weather in summer; Good Friday, the weather during harvest and lift time (potato harvest); while Holy Saturday was the herald of the winter weather.

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Lent

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

“What has become a habit let it remain a habit, and this, what was, what we heard from our fathers, or we have seen already by ourselves, pass to those who will come after us; remembering that where the past was, there, also, the future will be…”  – Leon Potocki 1854.

 After the cheerful days of carnival (in old Poland it was called “zapusty”) comes Lent, a time of penance and preparation for the most important days for Christians’ Easter. It lasts for 40 days, from Ash Wednesday to the beginning of the Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday (Sundays are not counted). It is not a coincidence that it lasts 40 days. This number refers to the 40 years of long travel through the desert by the Israelis and to the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert preparing for His death and Resurrection.

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Road shrines in Poland

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

fot. Aga P.

When travelling throughout Poland with foreign guests, they often look at the small structures built along the roads with great curiosity and ask about them.

They are made of concrete or wood. They are separate constructions or attached to trees. They are small like bird feeders or as big as a chapel. They have figures of saints or they are just crucifixes. They are road shrines.

Road shrines are something very common in Poland and we often do not pay much attention to them. They were always just part of the landscape. Only after visiting the Polish countryside with our guests do we realize that this is something that is not so usual.

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