Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Poles chase away winter by burning and drowning dolls
by Staff Writers
Sierpc, Poland (AFP) March 21, 2013

Traditionally, going back centuries, the doll was made of straw, the most readily available material for country dwellers desperate for spring.

Clutching a gaudy homemade doll in flames, students gathered Thursday on a frosty footbridge in central Poland to toss it into the river -- an ancient rite repeated across the country every March 21.

Chanting "Evil winter begone!", the students joined winter-weary Poles nationwide in the centuries-old tradition of burning "Marzanna" dolls to cast away the cold, illness and all other misery.

"The initial plan was to drown one of the girls from class, but our teacher said no," joked Piotr Soldanski, 14, drawing laughs from his classmates in the town of Sierpc.

The students made their Marzanna doll out of everyday items: colourful ribbon for hair, crumpled newspaper for the body, a parent's old shirt for the headband, a mop stick for support.

"The Marzanna is supposed to be ugly. Because it symbolises misfortune," said Joanna Szewczykowska, who organised the event at the local folklore museum, the Muzeum Wsi Mazowieckiej.

The origins of the word "Marzanna" are under debate, but the etymology is clearly rooted in a vocabulary of misfortune.

Szewczykowska says the name harks back to the word "mor", which means "illness" and is no longer used.

Her colleague Robert Piotrowski, an ethnographer, links the name to the word for "she died": "zmarla."

To complicate matters, the doll's name has had variants over the years and across regions.

Many Marzanna dolls today are eye-catching numbers full of colour and creativity.

At the Zastow community centre in Warsaw, the 80-some dolls on display along the fence included faces made of rubber gloves, arms made of wooden spoons, button eyes and garlic garland necklaces.

"We're thinking of doing a green edition of the Marzanna contest," said centre employee Olga Gradzka, 44, pointing out eco-friendly items among the rainbow lot.

Traditionally, going back centuries, the doll was made of straw, the most readily available material for country dwellers desperate for spring, Szewczykowska said.

"Until the 19th century, this rite was taken very seriously and was carried out by adults.

"But since then, it has turned into something fun for kids," with bad grades one of the chief ills to chase away, she said.

Teachers plan the torching and drowning event as a field trip, since March 21 is also Dzien Wagarowicza, or "skipping school day", when students cut classes to seek out spring, forcing police officers to patrol for truants.

"Better to organise something official, rather than have the students come up with some outlandish plan," said Alina Dumowska, 56, the Sierpc students' English teacher.

After throwing snowballs into the river for good measure on Thursday, the bundled-up teenagers watched the smouldering doll float away.

Then they turned to part two of the rite, the "Gait", in which they paraded down the road carrying a pine-tree branch adorned with colourful tissue-paper flowers to symbolise spring.


Related Links
It's A White Out at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Snowed-in Belarus tells citizens to stay home
Minsk (AFP) March 16, 2013
Heavy snow brought much of Belarus to a halt on Saturday, leaving travellers stranded for hours on highways and forcing the government to call in the army to help clear roads. Traffic police closed off most major roads in and around the capital Minsk, officials said. "The emergency ministry is asking all citizens not to use auto transport, and we don't recommend that elderly people go ou ... read more

Los Angeles drills response to 7.8 quake

Where, oh where, has the road kill gone?

Nuclear-hit Fukushima to get 20,000 cherry trees

Walker's World: The best news yet

Smartphone app turns home drone into spacecraft

Scientists claim new glasses-free 3D for cellphone

NASA Awards Astrotech Contract For SMAP Spacecraft Processing

Videogame power harnessed for positive goals

Natural climate swings contribute more to increased monsoon rainfall than global warming

Brazil activists end protest occupation of Amazon dam

Syria refugees draining Jordan water supply: aid groups

EU fish discard ban poses many questions

Antarctica's first whale skeleton found with 9 new deep-sea species

US backs Antarctic reserve amid calls for fishing ban

Sweden's FM touts Iceland patrols

Rivers flowing under Greenland ice traced

Haitian farmers call for 'food sovereignty'

Global nitrogen availability consistent for past 500 years, linked to carbon levels

Chinese appetite makes peanuts the new 'gold' in Senegal

Study: Farming by man was long in coming

Madagascar's hungry eat grasshoppers after deadly cyclone

Brazil landslides claim at least 27 lives

Brazil landslides claim at least 24 lives

Heavy rains leave 13 dead in Brazil

South Sudan rebel ambush kills 20 soldiers: official

Outside View: Can North Africa be saved?

Zimbabweans approve new constitution by landslide

Army, police shadow looms over Zimbabwe polls

Early human artwork went unrecognized

'Brain waves' challenge area-specific view of brain activity

Skulls of early humans carry telltale signs of inbreeding

Origins of human teamwork found in chimpanzees

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement