On March 21st, we killed and drowned Marzanna, in Poznan, Poland. The following describes our day, and how this holiday looks like for most groupings of people who participate in this centuries-old ritual across Poland and many Slavic countries:
Traditional flower crowns are handmade at the Fundacja Malta (the Foundation of Malta, organizer of the theatre festival of Malta in Poznan), and after dawning new head gear, the 'Polonez', a Polish Dance is enjoyed on the 'Plac Wolności', (Freedom Square). A march of 100's of people, lead by two many-pieced bands, dances its way through the streets, collecting new people along the way.
The crowd stops to listen to the famous Polish Boy's Choir 'Poznańskie Słowiki', and then proceeds to the Warta River for the symbolic drowning of Marzanna, (the female embodiment of Winter). This pagan-based ritual, signifying Winter's end, is finalized when the paper Maché heads are lit on fire, and fall into the river. It all ends in some merriment, in this case, beers and live funky jazz music at the Kontener Art, a privately owned outdoor art centre, a place that brings people together all summer long.
It is argued that the origin of this ritual is to symbolize winter's death (hence the march/procession through town) or the first baptism in Poland, in which the Pagans where essentially chased out, and Christianity was born (this happened in Poznan in 14 April, 966 AD). Its a day that officially became a "Tardy Day" after way too many years of kids skipping class to celebrate and dance around. I have to say, after being a part of a few crazy marches this year (protests in NY, Women's March in Washington, DC), it was refreshing to goof off and make lots of fun at this one. I hope its not the last.
(Thank you to all the lovely people I met, I had such a fun time photographing you. Your images should now be in your inbox, and I hope to see you again on my next visit to Poland)