Tuesday, March 22, 2011

80/365: The Marzanna

80/365: The Marzanna
80/365: The Marzanna, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.

March 21st

About to be burned and drowned in the Ner river. Goodbye, Winter!

Marzanna is the ancient pagan Slavic goddess of Winter. On the vernal equinox, we make an effigy of her, set it on fire and then drown it in the river so that Spring will come.

Although Christianity in Poland has worked hard to assimilate and conceal the multitude of wonderful pagan traditions within its Catholic celebrations, the drowning of the Marzanna persists despite many attempts to eradicate it. In fact it's traditional for pre-school children to make the effigy in class and then have a little field trip to drown her. The burning of Judas which was meant to replace it somehow never really caught on...and I am glad. Marzanna must die as the Winter cedes to Spring, but she will return next season to live again. Her burning is a symbol of the natural order, while tormenting a straw effigy of Judas only serves to translate guilt into angry righteousness.

I suppose the Church has to be content with the fact that we no longer greet Jaryła, the god of Spring, with dances and orgies...

So. I haven't done this in a while, for lack of good company, but this year I found two friends who thought it was a great idea. We made our Marzanna from wood, rags and hay, so she should decompose well. The Ner river is pretty dirty already, but there was no need to contribute to the pollution.

Kasia, Piotrek, and Marzanna

Burning the Marzanna

1 comment:

  1. If your effigy offering makes spring come any faster, I may have to take up the practice myself. ;)There's Polish and Bohemian in my blood, anyway.

    And I feel like our snow and drear shall never end. Winter does not want to cede.


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