Rekawka

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Rekawka - a Polish folk festival celebrated on the first Tuesday after Easter Sunday in Krakow, on the Krak Mound (also known as Krakus Mound). It is an ancient tumulus, not far from one of the oldest churches in Krakow – St. Benedict’s church.

History[change | change source]

Rekawka’s beginnings go back to the ancient Slavic springtime celebrations, called Dziady. For ancient Slavs, spring was a time of burning sacred fires to celebrate the dead, and of planting sacred groves. They also had the custom of leaving food for the dead [1]. The Krak Mound might have been one of such places where they held their celebrations.

These ancient Slavic traditions evolved over time, and customs changed. In the 19th century, it was customary for rich citizens of Krakow to throw coins, apples, sweets and boiled eggs down the grassy slope of the Krak Mound to be picked up by poor local people. Some historians see it as a continuation of the Slavic traditions of leaving food for the dead [2] [3].

The name of the festival[change | change source]

The name of the festival, Rekawka, might go back to the times of a legendary Slavic prince, Krak (or, Krakus). The legend says that Krak was the founder of the city of Kraków, and a great ruler. After his death, the people of Kraków built a high mound in his honour. To build the mound, they were carrying up the earth in their sleeves (Polish rekawsleeve) – and, that is why the festival is called Rekawka [4].

However, the festival’s name might also come from the Old Slavic words raka, rakev, meaning grave or burial. While excavating the mound, archaeologists found man-made objects from many different cultures and different periods – from the Stone Age to modern times. And, they also found some burial remains [5]. These finds give evidence to the Old Slavic origin of the mound’s name.

Rekawka in modern times[change | change source]

Nowadays, Rekawka has a popular, folk character. If the weather is warm and sunny, it can be an occasion for a pleasant family outing. There are stalls selling sweets and toys, merry-go-rounds, and street musicians. More recently, the festival has been featuring medieval knights fighting each other in mock duels,and medieval craftsmen at work. There is also an opportunity to taste traditional dishes such as kołacze [6] [7].

References[change | change source]

  1. Adamczewski, J. (1973). Jesteśmy w Krakowie. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Interpress.
  2. Adamczewski, J. (1973). Jesteśmy w Krakowie. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Interpress.
  3. Adamczewski, J. (1986). Kraków od A do Z. Kraków: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza.
  4. Adamczewski, J. (1986). Kraków od A do Z. Kraków: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza.
  5. Wyrozumski, J. (1992). Kraków do schyłku wieków średnich. In Dzieje Krakowa, J. Bienarzówna & J.M. Małecki (Eds.). Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie.
  6. Gazeta Wyborcza, 2018. Powiatowe zabawy na Kopcu Krakusa – święto Rękawki w Podgórzu. http://krakow.wyborcza.pl/krakow/7,44425,23222840,zaswiatowe-zabawy-na-kopcu-krakusa-swieto-rekawki-w-podgorzu.html (in Polish)
  7. Dom Kultury „Podgórze”. Historia tradycyjnego święta Rękawki. https://web.archive.org/web/20071025223205/http://dkpodgorze.krakow.pl/content/view/77/133/ (in Polish)