Seasonal Celebrations: Spring Equinox – The Marzanna Doll

Being raised in one country and living in another, I am floating between cultures and traditions, weaving my own. To value and honour my Polish/Slavic heritage and English customs and celebrate Mother Nature, I cherry-pick the best parts of seasonal celebrations and adapt them to fit my family and the place where I live.

Every season I craft a little ritual for my family to enjoy while celebrating the marvellous Mother Nature’s gifts.

This Spring Equinox, we made Natural Marzanna Dolls.

Photo credit: Pixabay, the Marzanna Doll

Making Marzanna dolls is an old Slavic tradition. Initially, it was made during celebrations of God Jaryło to celebrate spring and cast winter away, ensuring fertility in the upcoming months. The doll represents the Goddess of death and disease, Marzanna, who has to be burnt and drowned in the river to bid farewell to winter. Her demise embodies the necessity of dying in order to experience rebirth and new beginnings.

In some parts of Poland, drowning the Marzanna doll is still prevalent. On the first day of Spring, some schools would have no lessons. Instead, the children would make a doll using straw, old clothes and newspapers. Once finished, the children and their teachers would go to the nearby river to throw the doll in, saying goodbye to the wintery months.

I felt I needed to adapt this Slavic tradition to be acceptable on English soil, as I don’t think I could get away with throwing a big doll made of paper, clothes and straw into an English river.

So came up with a more eco-friendly solution. E., R. and I made Nature Marzanna Dolls using sticks, twigs, grass and natural string. The Little one enjoyed splashing in the stream more than making the dolls, though. Of course, we included splashing into our Spring Equinox Celebrations.

As my boy is not even two years old, we kept it simple. We thanked Mother Nature for her gifts, sang an uncomplicated song (Goodbye Winter, Welcome Spring), and threw our dolls into a stream (which we took out after).

I hope to expand our Spring ritual and add some more bits in years to come.

Here are some pictures of our creations:

Eco-friendly Nature Marzanna Doll

Happy Spring, Equinox!