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Near church of St Benedict and Krakus Mound
the Tuesday that follows Easter
This name was given to the fair that takes place on the Tuesday that follows Easter on Lasoty Hill, not far away from Krakus Mound, and next to the Church of St Benedict. In pre-Christian times, the mound must have been a site in which Slavic rites were conducted to the forefathers, which celebrated the spring. Christianity adapted the ancient custom and – even though All Hallows’ Day was transferred to November – the organisation of the celebrations that revered the glorious dead continued in the folk tradition. Moreover, this location long continued to be the site of funerary rites, as folk wakes were recorded here as late as 1836.
Over time, these ceremonies evolved into a feast. On the Tuesday following Easter, the site turns into the venue of an open-air event known as the Rękawka. Even though linguists clearly connect the name to the Czech word rakew, meaning “a coffin”, and the Serbian raka, “a grave”, which would confirm that the mound was the place of the cult of the deceased forefathers or simply a grave, the people of Kraków prefer to believe the legend which says that the subjects of King Krakus brought the soil that was necessary to build his kurghan in their hands and in their sleeves (Polish: w rękawach) which became immortalised in this name.
The merriment was accompanied by the making of bonfires, fencing, competitions, and the poor were given alms in food and money. The custom continued even after the revelries were transferred from the foot of the Mound to that of the Church of St Benedict. The shift was enforced by the Austrians, who took over the area for military purposes and built a fort by the mound. Moreover, they also banned the throwing of food and money to the poor, arguing that such a practice affronts human dignity. All that remained was merriment: climbing the pole, the race in sacks, and – of course – the fair and its stalls.
The stalls and the fair are held by the church to this day. Moreover, the celebrations returned after many years also to the foot of the Krakus Mound. For the last few years, a mediaeval village was built there on the Tuesday following Easter, which allows us to become familiar with the lifestyle, costumes, crafts, and weapons of our Slavic forefathers.
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