Saturday, April 30, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The Lodz Zoo opened a special butterfly exhibit. You're not supposed to pick up the butterflies, but if they land on you themselves, it's fair game. ;)
It was hard to take photos, because the butterflies prefer to keep their wings closed...
...and they favour the ceiling. But this fellow decided to stick with us for a while:
I got a photo with him, too. Made me think of milking butterflies in Glitch. :P
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
This morning, our neighbours were going to the cemetery to visit a loved one. I went along with them, because Powązki is so beautiful. There are so many statues, and famous people buried there. And an aunt of mine whom I loved when I was small. I had a little bit of trouble finding her grave, but I did and left her a votive in blue glass.
Monday, April 25, 2011
In Poland, on Easter Sunday, the first thing you eat is a slice of boiled egg. You go from person to person, wishing them a happy Easter...and whatever else you want them to be blessed with.
Then you get to eat everything else.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
From left to right: Marcin, the Porzeziński Family (note Tosia hiding in the background), my dad, my mum, my sister and her boyfriend, imported from Barcelona.
In the photo, they are all standing by the Dominican Order Church, with their Easter Baskets in hand. Every year on Good Saturday, we take baskets filled with samples of the Easter meal to church where a priest blesses them:
They're a symbol of all the food that will be on our table that year. It's like saying grace before a meal, but with a long-term warranty.
Afterwards we go look at the grave in the church (where I don't take photos because people are praying) and then we fill a bottle with holy water from a barrel set out on the church steps:
Oh, and here's a bonus. My sister has a new boyfriend- David from Barcelona. Here they are in real life....
...and in egg form.
I am told he painted her and she painted him.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Also some babas and wine, and a poppyseed cake. We made less than usual this year, because half the usual guests are over in Finland where my half-brother's daughter's husband relocated with his family to work on building a powerplant. So no great-grand-nephew or great-grand-niece will eat these, alas. Well, more for me!
Friday, April 22, 2011
I always say daffodil, but daffodils are a type of narcissus...it's so confusing.
Also in my mother's garden, some tulips:
Some of these, whatever they are:
...and the magnolia:
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
On their balcony. Grandpa doesn't like his planters to be bare, so before real flowers bloom, he sticks in fake daffodils. The hyacinths are real, though!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
This hill is an artificial mound erected in 1823 in honour of Tadeusz Kościuszko (Thaddeus Kosciusko for you American types), and it is modeled after the legendary burial mounds of King Krak and Princess Wanda. It's just over a thousand feet above sea level, and you can see the whole city from the top.
When construction first began, most of Poland was under foreign occupation and split into three territories, between Russia, Prussia and Austria. Cracow itself was a Free City, in theory an independent and neutral miniature country, though in reality it remained under the control of the three occupants and was represented by them in all foreign matters. The monument was financed and built entirely by donated money and effort of patriots from the occupied territories- you can see how symbolic the construction would have been to Poles living under foreign rule. Note that among many of Kościuszko's great deeds was the insurrection of 1794, a revolt against the Russian and Prussian occupation. It failed, but was a great and valiant movement of the people.
Soil was brought from many areas to add to the great mound, among them Polish and American battlefields where Kościuszko fought. In the picture you can see St. Bronisława's chapel, the site chosen for the mound being a hill already dedicated to her. A few decades later, the Austrians built a citadel around the mound and used it as a strategic lookout. Part of that citadel still remains and now houses a museum dedicated to Kościuszko.
Monday, April 18, 2011
What's so great about Lipnica Murowana, you ask?
Well, every year, on Palm Sunday, they make these:
See, we don't have palm trees in Poland, so for Palm Sunday we have to improvise.
The palms are yet another tradition borrowed from pagan culture (and Lipnica even has a church built in the 12th century in a pagan Holy Grove, with the altar set on a pillar carved with a pagan god's likeness...serious history there:
...and of course that means it's colourful, joyful, and very creative.
But the very special thing about Lipnica Murowana is that the village holds a yearly contest for the tallest handmade 'palm'. And it gets VERY competitive.
Above, the second-tallest palm is raised, with great care and caution. Because there are rules that make this contest exciting. No nails or other metal elements can be used in making the palms- only wood, willow, reeds, green branches and paper flowers are allowed.
Wires, ropes and lines from synthetic materials are also forbidden. In order to qualify in the contest, the palm has to stand upright without breaking, it has to be raised with no help from machines (hence the men in the trees guiding the lines, and those on the ground, pushing with special long forks), and the author must be able to wrap his hands around the trunk.
The palm in the photo above is the first prize winner, at 36.4 metres- that's almost 120 feet! I heard someone say the whole thing weighed about 600 lbs. It took about a dozen men half an hour to get it upright.
Here are some of the shorter palms, arranged around the statue of St. Szymon:
And this is me with the palms I bought. They were made by local schoolchildren:
...and Marta who went with me, chasing off a bee:
Here's the whole set on flickr. I took tons of photos. :
Palm Sunday in Lipnica Murowana