Visit in Małopolska (Lesser Poland) region is an opportunity to watch real highlanders wearing their folk costumes, but there are more traditions of the region than just folk costumes. The still existing folk culture is the strongest expression of the variety of Lesser Poland.
Costume of a Cracovian has a peacock feather proudly attached to a four-cornered cap. Highlander’s hat is rimmed with shells and adorned with a feather. Richly sequined bodices, thick strings of beads, vividly coloured skirts, meticulously embroidered parzenice on the highlander’s trousers. The folk costumes of Lesser Poland sparkle with boldest colours and amaze with their variety of design and ornamentation. The most famous folk costumes are worn by the Cracovians and the highlanders from Podhale. Very different traditions were cultivated by the Lemkos and the Rusyns from Beskid Sądecki and the Low Beskids. Still different costumes were worn by the highlanders of Spisz, Orawa and Lachow.
Beautiful and still cultivated tradition, which has its origins in the Mongols invasions. Every hour in the highest tower of St. Mary’s Church in Krakow, a fireman plays on a trumpet the melody with the last tune suddenly interrupted. Legend has it that when the Mongols were approaching the city, they were only spotted by one bugler-fireman. He blew his trumpet, but he never managed to finish the melody, as he died pierced with a Mongols arrow.
Hero from Krakow on a artificial horse – is one of the most recognisable symbols of Lesser Poland. Its popularity is partly due to the annual march from the district of Zwierzyniec to the Market Square, which takes place eight days after Corpus Christi. A bearded man holding a mace rides a colourful horse down the main streets of the city. Everyone who gives him money receives a pat on the head, which is believed to bring luck. Even though nowadays Lajkonik is seen as a funny character in disguise, the origins of the tradition date back to the 13th century Mongols invasions.
Kraków nativity cribs
Kraków is famous for its extraordinary tradition of building nativity cribs. The tradition dates back to the late 19 th century and was started by the brick-layers from the suburbs of Kraków, who in the wintertime had to look for alternative jobs. Since the 1930s, the city has organised an annual competition of nativity cribs on the first Thursday of December. The event is held under the patronage of the Historical Museum of Krakow. On a foggy morning, the participants bring their works to the monument of Adam Mickiewicz in the Main Square. All cribs need to contain elements of Krakow’s historic architecture. They are later on exhibition at the Historical Museum
Lace from Bobowa
Making lace is one of handicraft traditions of Lesser Poland. Bobowa town has specialised in the difficult process of the production of bobbin lace, which is prettier than the more commonly manufactured crochet lace. The artistry and ingenuity of the local lacemakers is so impressive that people come to Bobowa to take part in lace-making workshops. The town also organises the annual Lace Festival in Bobowa.
The contest for the most beautifully painted cottage
It is organised each year in Zalipie on the first Sunday after Corpus Christi. It is therefore worth visiting this little village near Tarnow on that particular day. Zalipie is known for its over one-hundred-year-old tradition of decorating houses with colourful flower patterns against white background. The murals cover the walls of houses, outbuildings, as well as the interiors of rooms, domestic appliances and furniture. The women of Zalipie also craft embroidered costumes, bedcovers, tablecloths and many other decorations.
a festive march of shepherds and their flocks – sets out in the spring from the villages of Podhale. As winter was coming to an end and the grazing lands were turning green, senior shepherds together with their helpers gathered all the sheep and set off towards mountain pastures. The grazing period began on 23 April and continued until 29 June. The most important march had its beginning in the sanctuary of Gaździna Podhala in Ludźmierz. Nowadays, every year on 23 April the sanctuary organises the Feast of the Senior Shepherds. Another famous redyk takes place in Jaworki. The march is organised in July and is accompanied by a number of events, competitions and food tastings. Another interesting reference to the sheep-grazing tradition is the Oscypek Cheese Trail .