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Marzanna met in the forest ...

Mar¾anna, Mara, Mar¾ena, Morana, Moréna, Mora, Marmora or Morena is a Slavic goddess associated with death, winter and nightmares. Some sources equate her with the Latvian goddess Māra, who takes a person's body after their death. Some medieval Christian sources such as the Mater Verborum also compare her to the Greek goddess Hecate, associating her with sorcery. The Polish chronicler Jan D³ugosz (15th cent.) likened her to Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture.
Modern Marzanna effigy, Poland
The tradition of burning or drowning an effigy of Marzanna to celebrate the end of winter is a folk custom that survives in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Typically taking place on the day of the vernal equinox, the rite involves setting fire to a female straw effigy, drowning it in a river, or both. In Poland, this is often performed during a field trip by children in kindergartens and primary schools. The effigy can range in size from a puppet to a life-size dummy. This ritual represents the end of the dark days of winter, the victory over death, and the welcoming of the spring rebirth.
It concerns the "drowning of Marzanna," a large figure of a woman made from various rags and bits of clothing which is thrown into a river on the first day of the spring calendar. Along the way, she is dipped into every puddle and pond ... Very often she is burned along with herbs before being drowned and a twin custom is to decorate a pine tree with flowers and colored baubles to be carried through the village by the girls. There are of course many superstitions associated with the ceremony: you can't touch Marzanna once she's in the water, you can't look back at her, and if you fall on your way home you're in big trouble. One, or a combination of any of these can bring the usual dose of sickness and plague.

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Additional Photos by Krzysztof Dera (Fis2) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5086 W: 157 N: 6782] (81546)
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