Christmas is time of honouring the tradition with twelve dishes and one additional tableware on the table placed for a stray wanderer, as well as the Christmas tree reigning in all houses. But how did things look like before the custom of decorating trees came to Poland?
Today, hardly anybody knows what podłaźnik (Christmas wreath) is or what didukh looked like. However, it was not that long ago that they ruled in Polish homes during Christmas. In order to learn more about traditional local Christmas decorations, it is worth visiting Małopolska, a region where many of these ornaments originated.
A branch instead of a tree
Happiness hidden in straw
Houses in Małopolska were also decorated with straw ornaments for Christmas. Decorations in the form of the non-threshed grain, called didukh, appeared not only in peasant houses, but also in courts. They were usually put in a corner, or at a place of honour, right behind the table. Straw didukhs were kept at home until Epiphany, and then ritually burnt. This custom, which was still upheld at the beginning of the 20th century, was supposed to ensure good harvest and protect crops.
Up to this day, Małopolska is distinguished by its very rich offer of festive decorations, which you can learn about by setting out on a trip along the trail of traditional craft in this region. Manufactories still produce traditional decorations and many folk artists offer the opportunity to take part in workshops. Nevertheless, folk crafts is steadily disappearing and therefore it is worth capturing skills and knowledge of those who are struggling to pass on cultural heritage to the next generation.