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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Poland, Lesson 16- First Day of Spring
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Poland Series at PolishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Polish holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 16 - First Day of Spring. In Polish, it’s called pierwszy dzień wiosny.
In this lesson, we’ll be discussing the first day of spring. In Poland, there are four seasons, but one is so special that there is a very old pagan custom to welcome it. In the old days, human life was governed by the seasons, which is why in Poland, the first day of spring, which falls on March 21, was a day when magical rituals were held to chase the winter away and usher in the spring.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What’s another name for the first day of spring in Poland?
If you don't know already, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The beginning of spring, a time when the world comes to life, falls on the day of the spring equinox, or przesilenie wiosenne. In the old days, according to pre-Christian beliefs, in order to secure a good harvest in the following year, one had to drown a Marzanna, the Goddess of witchcraft, death and winter. People would make Marzanna dolls out of straw, hay and rags with coral and a garland on her head, that was mounted on top of a long pole. Marzanna is a symbol of death, often associated with winter. The killing of Marzanna each year ensured the departure of winter, or zima, and the welcoming of spring, in Polish pronounced wiosna.
After making the effigy of Marzanna, the residents of a village would form a procession with her at the front and visit each house one by one, occasionally dipping Marzanna in a body of water they would pass along the way, such as a puddle or a well. Then the effigy was set on fire and thrown into a river or a lake, where she was meant to end her life, along with winter. Of course, the Church was against this pagan tradition and sought to ban it. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it even tried implementing an alternative in the form of dropping an effigy of Judas from the church tower. However, the customs of the people reigned true, and have survived until this day.
Today, the first day of spring and the traditional drowning of Marzanna is still regularly celebrated, and not just in the countryside. On this day in cities, one can often see students walking to a nearby river with a straw puppet on top of a long stick. For people today, this tradition is an opportunity to have fun in a novel way.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What’s another name for the first day of spring in Poland?
The first day of spring is usually called Truant’s Day, or dzień wagarowicza. The much welcomed warming of the weather makes many students feel the need to enjoy the outdoors instead of attending class, making attendance very low. In fact, sometimes an entire class may be absent from lessons! Some schools try to fight this tendency and organize outdoor events and activities instead.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Would you like it if Truant's Day was also celebrated in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at PolishPod101.com!
See you next time!