Meet "Marzanna" ~ a doll that my son "made" at the preschool lesson i took him to yesterday. There's a reason she's sitting in the hall. Let me explain...
Marzanna is a the Slavic goddess of winter and death which is also a long standing "Polish Tradition". So this week with the "coming of spring", March 21, kids in schools make dolls like this, decorating them with ribbons and beads, and take them to the river (or water), set them on fire and drown them. Sound evil?!
The custom is rooted in pagan sacrificial rites and some researchers consider the doll "marzanna" demonic. The ritual was supposed to ensure fertility in the coming year. One anthropologist said that it was believed that the killing of a representative of the goddess of death will also remove effects caused by it (winter) and the coming of spring.
Christianity tried to prohibit the Slavic custom. In 1420, in the city of Poznań the clergy were ordered:
"Do not allow on Sunday, the superstitious habit of carrying (voodoo) dolls, that they call death and drown in puddles."
However, native tradition has proved to be stronger.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *So the question what are we going to do with this springtime tradition? How will we teach our kids as they encounter "Marzanna" yearly at school? We are far from figuring it out but a few things come to mind...
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma... Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them."
Ephesians 5:1-2, 11
I love how the NASB phrases it, "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness..." We know for sure that we don't want to participate in this yearly ritual. But we also want to imitate God, walk in love and help others to know Christ...
As much as we love the festivals that take place in Kraków, we will choose not to visit the city center and take place in these springtime celebrations. Here's a half-marathon that's taking place this weekend (in the snow!) that uses Marzanna as the mascot in the advertisement.
That's why there's a sketchy doll is in my hallway... soon to be in the garbage room.
What cultural things do you find challenging where you are? How would you teach your kids to live according to God's truth in light of this cultural tradition/pagan ritual?
[see Wikipedia - Marzanna for more]