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Zapust Carnival in Radzilow

Text from: Zapust w Radzilowie Brochure (Obtained in Radzilow):

Note: I did not correct translation or grammatical errors;
this is exactly as it was written in English in the brochure.


Zapust Carnival Puppets


A nineteenth century historian characterizes the Radzilow inhabitants in a description of Mazowsze as "... of restless mind ..." (Swiecicki, Ancient Poland). That "restlessness" of minds - and we should understand it as being inspiring, witty and imaginative, can be best seen in the local customs - especially "Zapust" Carnival - stimulating the inhabitants to passionate amusement. "Zapust" - the culminating point of carnival - combines elements of joyful amusement equaling all the inhabitants and vegetative magic bewitching good crops. Included in the latter are the "goat", "stork" masquers whose the connection to harvest and fertility is widely known ("Where the goat goes the rye grows. Where the goat bumps its horn the rye stands in a stack.") and also "Bears" or "Old Men" ("Dziady") wrapped in haulms with symbolically setting them on fire and plentifully watering as a sign of fertilization. The principle and original custom, being the central point of "Zapust" carnival entertainment in Radzilow, is "Ziabela", - that is a pair of natural-size puppets laid on a horizontally placed wheel. This pair, variously interpreted, according to the most popular version depicts the nobleman Jan and his dissolute wife Izabela (thus "Ziabela"), who drinking frivolled away their wealth on gaieties. Thus they deserve social disapproval and ridicule. However, a wider appearance of a similar custom in Poland may indicate that "Ziabela" is a relict of social rebuke for those who, while merry-making, did not fulfill the duty to marry. The pageants of disguised people: "Gypsy's" and "Krakovian" weddings; beggar "poor Bernard"; "Stork", "Goat", "Bears", "Ziabela" and a lively participation of all the Radzilow society in this event - rite - entertainment add to the uniqueness of the spectacle. The popularity of the Krakovian "Lajkonik", "Palm Sunday" in Lyse, carnivals in Rio de Janeiro or Venice indicate that also "Zapust" carnival in Radzilow deserves the attention of the traditions and old customs lovers.

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