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When autumn moves into winter…

lis 29

On the night of 29/30 November in Poland it’s a time of mysterious events with candles and games predicting the future, called Andrzejki (St Andrew’s Day) – the same as in the very past but nowadays repeated only for fun.

The tradition of Andrzejki was observed in the 16th century and is still known and practiced in all regions of Poland.

fot. Katarzyna Barnaś

Its roots date back to pagan times when the time of the seasons changing was considered as extremely powerful. People believed that it was possible to contact the “other world” in this particular time.

The spiritual character of this period was later appreciated by Christianity, which is why St Andrew’s Day coincides with the beginning of Advent in the Catholic Church. Advent lasts four weeks before Christmas and is a time of reflection and anticipation.

In the past, the predictions had only a matrimonial meaning and only maidens could took part in a play. Originally Andrzejki was treated very seriously and the predictions were celebrated individually. Nowadays, the ceremony is no longer so magical and serious, but it has been transformed into a funny game which gathers young girls and boys together.

What are some of the favourite predictions?

Pouring wax into water

The favourite way of telling the future was pouring liquid wax into water through a key. The shape of the solidified wax could have a very special meaning, e.g. what a future husband would look like, what his profession would be, and so on…

Who will be the first to get married?

During St Andrew’s Eve young people wanted to know who would get married first. The answer was the result of a shoe competition. The owner of the shoe that reached the door first would be the lucky one i.e. the first person to leave the house and get married.

(KB)

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Is it Christmas yet?

lis 22

In the middle of November the autumn seems to lose all its colourful beauty. Halloween, All Saint’s Day is long gone and shoppers are looking for a new items to stuff into their shopping baskets. Then, all of a sudden, characteristic autumnal menus and decorations are replaced with Christmas lights, gingerbread and Santa’s hats. Is Christmas coming every year a little earlier or are we just getting tricked by shop owners in desperate need of selling as many decorations as possible?

Let’s face it: Christmas is one of the best occasions for an easy bait for almost all shops and company owners. It is a perfect excuse to send gifts so everybody buys and buys. Tempted by the flickering lights and the warm delicious smell of gingerbread and cocoa, we cheerfully enter shopping centers for our seasonal supplies. It is all very home-like, reminding us of home cooking and the safety of our family houses. Marketers do their best to make us feel this way and so spend more money and start doing it earlier. We know this, and so do all the big corporations. So why do we fall into this trap every year?

Psychology experts say that the people who start celebrating Christmas earlier are happier than those who wait (source: independent.co.uk). The reason for this is nothing other than those sweet childhood memories. Your inner child is eager to hop in and put up those Christmas decorations to make you feel stress free again. Those were the times, am I right? The excitement, presents, food and the atmosphere of pure magic. Well, the magic of Christmas seems to fade away as we get older. A lack of time always makes us feel in a hurry, frustrated and lonely. With that in mind, is it really that strange to feel excited whenever the first decorations are put out on the shelves?

It is the perfect time to bond with your friends and family so why wait? Of course maybe in the middle of August you had better hide those sleighs back in the closet, but now in the middle of November is it really too early? Why don’t we just have a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle up under a warm fluffy blanket watching the lights on a Christmas tree? It surely won’t do us any harm :)

(MW)

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How to deal with the lack of sunlight?

lis 10

When the days are shorter and we can see the sun only for few hours a day, we usually have less energy to do anything. If you have no possibility to travel to one of the countries where it is summer now, you have to find another solution to this problem.

fot. Barbara Bączek

Music

Have you ever heard the term “summer song”? I am sure you have! Some types of music are definitely associated with positive things, such as a sun, warmth, holidays … When you listen to them, you immediately get a lot of energy, even if there are only clouds beyond the window. It is a great idea for example to get a little bit of motivation to clean up your flat.
Do you have your favourite “summer song”? If so, share it with us.

Physical activity

Scientists agree that when you do physical exercises, your brain produces endorphins – neurochemicals that can make you feel much better. You feel something similar to euphoria and, even if you are sweaty and physically tired, you get ready mentally for the challenges which you couldn’t force yourself earlier to meet. There is a lot of activities to choose from: dance, gym, running, swimming, skiing … You just have to find the best one for you.

Light therapy lamps and … sunlight

In many countries (for example Scandinavia) the lamps that emit the light similar to the sun are very popular. Maybe you also should try them? It is not the same, of course; however, as the Polish proverb says: “If you cannot have the thing you like, you have to like the thing you have”.
There is also one more important point – remember that even in the Autumn and Winter there are some days with a lot of sunlight. Use it as often as you have possibility to do so – don’t say that you are too tired to go outside, is too cold, etc. … When your skin gets some of the sun’s rays, you will feel like you were born again :)

(BB)

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The melody of Krakow…

paź 30

Tourists gathered on the Main Square look upon the tower of St. Mary’s Church and wait for the bugler who appears in its windows with his trumpet and plays a melody in each of the four cardinal directions, and after that gives a friendly wave to the tourists below. Why at a certain moment does the tune stop short?

Fot. Katarzyna Barnaś

According to a legend, the bugle call was suddenly stopped as a trumpeter was killed by a Tatar’s arrow. During the Tatar invasion, a guard spotted the approaching assailants and began to bugle to raise the alarm to warn the residents of danger. While playing the bugle call he was shot by an arrow and didn’t complete the bugling. In remembrance of this episode, the melody from the St. Mary’s tower is never played to the end.

Cracow is the only city in the world where the medieval tradition of playing from the tower every hour has been preserved until today. Every day, on the hour, the bugle is played from the tower of
St. Mary Church.

During 24-hour duty the bugle call is played by 2 trumpeters (professional firefighters), 48 times by each. At present, the melody of the bugle (hejnał) resounds on all four corners of the world: southwards for a king (Wawel Castle), westwards for the councils (the Cloth Hall and the Main Square), northwards for the guests (the St. Florian Gate), and eastwards, once for the merchants, and now for the commander of the fire department.

There are 239 stairs leading up to the St. Mary’s tower. But when we climb to the top we realise that the view was worth our effort. We can admire a beautiful panoramic view of the whole of Cracow.
We can also see the fireman’s equipment as well as the historical radio tube thanks to which every day – at 12:00 p.m. Polish time on Polish Radio – the most beautiful Cracovian melody has been played since 1927. It is the oldest radio broadcast in the world!

It is not known exactly since when the bugle call has been played. It is also not known since when it has been played in all cardinal directions as a remembrance. However, it is known, that the bugle is one of the most interesting Cracovian traditions, a huge attraction for tourists, and today no-one can imagine Cracow without the bugle melody.

And last but not least: in 2000 the bugle was a hero of the Guinness World Records. On 11 of June, exactly at noon, on the Cracow Main Square, 2000 trumpeters played the bulge. The oldest member was 79 years old, and the youngest was 8.

(KB)

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Dyniowy zawrót głowy

paź 11

Moda na dynię nie przemija – to pękate warzywo stało się znakiem rozpoznawczym jesieni zupełnie jak spadające liście, deszcz oraz reklamy leków na przeziębienie. Ulubiony jesienny napój to już od paru lat latte z dyniową przyprawą, a dyniowe lampiony cieszą się popularnością nawet w szkołach. Jak to jest z tą dynią? Skąd się wzięła i czy ten trend pozostanie z nami na dłużej?

Dynia pochodzi z Ameryki Środkowej, została sprowadzona do Europy przez Krzysztofa Kolumba. I chociaż na początku Europejczycy traktowali ją raczej jako egzotyczną ciekawostkę, szybko została uznana za przysmak i na stałe zagościła na stołach. Istnieje wiele odmian tego warzywa, między innymi dynia piżmowa, Hokkaido czy dynia makaronowa. Swoją popularność w kuchni dynia zawdzięcza przede wszystkim uniwersalności. Z miąższu można przyrządzić niemalże wszystkie potrawy, od zup, kremów i sosów, do chleba, ciast i babeczek. Co więcej, dynia posiada walory lecznicze, zawdzięczając to dużej ilości magnezu i cynku. Zarówno kwiaty, liście jak i pestki dyni są jadalne. W Stanach Zjednoczonych dynia jest traktowana niezwykle poważnie, organizowane są między innymi konkursy na największą wyhodowaną dynię. Według Księgi Rekordów Guinnessa, rekord najcięższej dyni padł w 2010 roku (1.054 kg).

Dzisiaj jednak dynia kojarzy się głównie z uśmiechniętymi ponuro lampionami oraz świętem Halloween. Według legendy, niezwykle skąpy mężczyzna o imieniu Jack po śmierci nie trafił do nieba, a ponieważ miał zatargi z diabłem (to się nazywa trudny charakter!), nie mógł pójść również do piekła. Za karę miał wędrować po świecie z lampionem w dłoni. Lampion zwany jako Jack-O-Lantern jest właśnie upamiętnieniem irlandzkiego dusigrosza. Warto wspomnieć, że zanim dynia stałą się symbolem Halloween, Irlandczycy wycinali latarenki z ziemniaków, rzep i buraków. W wigilię „All Night’s Hollow” wydrążona z miąższu dynia, z wyciętymi oczami i świeczką w środku wita dzieciaki, które spodziewają się niemałego zastrzyku słodkości.

I na koniec ciekawostka o chyba najsłynniejszej dyniowej kawie: Pumpkin Spice Latte, zaproponowana przez kawiarnię Starbucks w 2013 roku nie zawierała dyni. Dopiero w sierpniu 2015 Starbucks ogłosił, że ​​zmienia przepis i zamienia karmelowy kolorant na prawdziwą dynię… Cóż, lepiej późno niż wcale :)

(MW)

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