Marzanna is a Slavic goddess of death, winter and nightmares. Burning and drowning Marzanna is very old Slavic tradition, that survived only in Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
As tradition states, getting rid of a Marzanna’s puppet at the day of March Equinox will end winter and assure fertile crops. The puppet is made of straw, covered with white cloth and decorated with ribbons. In the morning children used to go all around the village and visit all households with the puppet. It was also very important to drown Marzanna in every little puddle encountered on a way. In the evening youth took over the puppet - they used to go outside their village, where they burned and then drown Marzanna in a nearby river or lake.
As always - there are many superstitions regarding this rite. First of all, you shouldn’t touch Marzanna in water or you will lose your arm. On your way back home you should never look back if you want to stay healthy and you better no slip, or it’s sure you will die in the following year!
In Poland this tradition is still extremely popular. It’s usually performed by children in kindergartens and primary schools. I remember we used to go on a field trip on that day to drown our own Marzannas! :D Modern Marzannas take various shapes and sizes, but the idea remains the same. The funny thing is that in many cities there are organized Marzannas’ beauty contests - I don’t really think that’s what our ancestors planned! ;)
Hope you enjoyed this little post!