Ester is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar, celebrated all around the world. Despite the passage of time and modern changes, traditions and customs from Małopolska are strongly connected with the rich culture of the region, and are still alive and celebrated by its people.
Easter palms? Only from Lipnica
Lipnica Murowana, a village in Bochnia County, becomes the most important place in Małopolska the week before Ester – a day known as Palm Sunday. It is here that the most splendid palms in the whole region can be found. The highest ones take part in a competition organized there yearly since 1958. So far, the greatest record set is a 35.10 meter palm.
When making an Ester palm, we should follow the unchanging principles – the base must be a wooden pole covered with wicker and tied with willow sticks. After that, women should create hand-made flowers made from crêpe paper – 30 flowers for every meter of the Easter palm. All elements should be made with one’s hands and by using traditional bindings and patterns.
Easter eggs? Only from Zalipie and Tarnowo
Some of the most beautiful Easter eggs are made in Zalipie, a village known for its beautiful floral designs on house walls. Local housewives copied these famous patterns and started using them to create Easter decorations – painting them on blown eggs of hens, geese and ostriches, as well as eggs made from wood or ceramic. Just before Easter, over one thousand Easter eggs are made in the House of Painters in Zalipie!
The painted patterns are not based on templates, but are a product of Zalipie egg makers’ imagination. Therefore, each Easter egg is unique. Enthusiasts of unconventional ornaments are also advised to visit nearby Tarnów, where they will find small masterpieces of Easter egg making – lacelike quail and ostrich eggs cut out with a drill.
Toys and sculptures? Only from Emaus in Kraków
Toy making used to be very popular among rural artists, and toys could be bought on farmer’s markets and church fairs. Today, one of the main centres of traditional toy making in Poland is Stryszawa in Małopolska, where one can find numerous workshops opened for tourists, many of which go as far as providing toy-making classes. To this day, the most important toy festival is Emaus – a holiday fair that has been
organized on Easter Mondays in Salwator in Kraków since the 16th century. Apart from toys, one can also find sweets, handicrafts, and the very valued among collectors traditional wooden figurines of Jews,ntottering on springs. During church fairs, families can go for a walk along Wisła and Rudawa, a trip that symbolizes Jesus’ journey to Emmaus.
Pucheroki, Siuda Baba and Dziady Śmigustne
Easter traditions from Małopolska are unique for the region and not found anywhere else in Poland. In Babice near Kraków, on every Palm Sunday houses are visited by “Pucheroki”- children wearing spiky hats made from colourful crêpe paper, ragged outfits tied with straw ropes and “Laska pucherska” (a long hammer wrapped with crêpe paper), asking for gifts and treats. Meanwhile in Dobra village one can find Dziady Śmigustne – people clad in furry masks, straw and straw ropes – who ask for alms.
This tradition refers to a story of wounded Tatar captives who were given help by people from the village. In turn, on Easter Monday Wieliczka becomes the roaming ground of Siuda Baba – a man dressed as a woman smeared with soot. This character is based on a pagan priestess protecting the spring of the goddess Leda in the nearby city of Lednica Górna. Siuda Baba walks door to door accompanied by Gipsies and people from Kraków in search of young girls – and when they are caught, the girls can free themselves only by offering a small gift or a kiss.