Drowning of Marzanna

Drowning of Marzanna (frost maiden)  is an old pagan custom still very popular in Poland and practiced on the first day of Spring. For our ancestors, the custom was associated with the everlasting rhythm of life. It expressed their joy at the coming of spring, which meant a rebirth of nature, promising crops and abundance. The Marzanna was a representation of winter. She was prepared as a doll made out of straw and sticks and was carried by villagers from house to house to eventually be thrown into the river to symbolize the end of Winter. 

This ceremony would be probably long forgotten if not an attempt to restore old pagan habits in place of Christian tradition by the communistic government. It was a great thing to bring back.  Every year at school, we made a doll from old grass, small tree branches, then on the first day of Spring we marched to the river and with great joy threw our Marzanna in :)  

Decades later and at the other end of the world,  on the  first day of Spring i still carry my willow branch frost maiden down to the stream and as i watch her float away i feel a deep connection with my ancestors and with the millions of people in the Old Country who are now celebrating the end of Winter in the very same way.  


trailguide trailguide
36-40, F
10 Responses Mar 19, 2009

Yes! I am sure they would really enjoy making their own winter dolls and drowning them. I feel like a kid myself when i do it ;)

It is Des ! I bet you would have fun making one and throwing it into a river too ;) I feel so connected to my Polish roots through this :)

Happy Spring, Dee :) It's chilly here too but like you said...it wont be long now. Yay! :)

What a beautiful tradition! Happy Spring Equinox, trailguide!! It's not feeling much like it here today, though -- received a fresh snowfall instead! But I love knowing it's right around the corner...

Yes! Another year, another Marzanna sent down the river . I enjoy this ritual so much :) And i did make sure i gave her an extra beating from you too Datura. This Winter was extra harsh on us up here, so it was only fair, eh :) And i must say that this time ,unlike some other years, she didn't hang on to the banks or spin and linger just a little bit longer in one spot . The current grabbed her, and she floated away out of sight in a matter of moments. I sure hope that this is a sign of Winter's willingness to go away swiftly this year. Happy Spring!!! :)

Happy Spring once again, Trailguide! I hope you remembered to throw a stone at old Marzanna for me!

This is a very nice tradition. I am polish but knew nothing of it. -thanks my friend!

You might want to write a book.

How cool!<br />
I'd love to hear more about pagan traditions in the land of my ancestors.<br />
<br />
Isn't it amazing that centuries may go by and somehow, something that is lost is found? I think of it like weeds popping up through cracks in an concrete parking lot. Some things have more power than man or time or tradition or doctrine can hold back. The thought of it iw really quite hopeful.

Happy spring Trailguide! I love this story and that you honor this tradition of your ancestors. In my mind's eye I picture you now with your willow maiden, and the child also with her doll of grass and sticks. Lovely pictures.