On March 21st, the first day of spring, in many Polish cities and towns one can see groups of children traveling in different directions. Could they be celebrating the official day for “skipping school”, very popular in Poland, providing freedom from the burden of studying? Maybe so, but many groups of children are accompanied by their teachers, and they are on their way to a river, lake, or pond to drown a “Marzanna”.
“Marzanna” is a doll symbolizing the bad, long winter. She is made of straw, hay, cardboard, and rags. Dressed in a colorful skirt or dress with a scarf on her head, she is placed on top of a long stick and later is drowned in the river or lake. Children carrying “Marzanna’ participate in a colorful parade singing songs. The last person in the parade is a child carrying “Gaik”. “Gaik” is a symbol of spring. It is a tree branch decorated with ribbons and artificial flowers. Drowning “Marzanna” in a rive, lake, or pond is accompanied with the singing or saying of the following words: “Marzanna, Marzanna, Swim across the seas. Let flowers bloom, And fields turn green.” Tradition of drowning “Marzanna” goes back many centuries.