Tradition – customs and rites
Opole is a unique region due to its traditions which are the product of the influence from a mixture of Polish, Czech, and German traditions. This kind of cultural melting-pot led to the development of unique culture with its own dialect, clothing traditional costume and cuisine. Despite omnipresent globalization, in our voivodeship dialect, rites, dances, songs and literature still remains its regional character, entertaining tourists with its rareness and colour.
Examples of folk traditions in Opole
Festival of folk song in Gogolin. Since 1979, every two years a competition which presents production of folk bands is held.
Leading the bear. Amongst Silesian villages this old custom is sustained until the present day, and usually takes place on the last carnival Saturday. There is a colourful procession of costume clothed people, with the accompaniment of musicians, leading a bear through a village. The bear symbolizes all the evil a man may experience. House hosts, on whom the procession calls, must pay off from misery with money, alcohol or sweets.
Drowning Marzanna. The most popular spring custom which symbolizes the farewell to Winter. On the first day of spring dummy- Marzanna( a symbol of winter) is set on fire and thrown into a river.
Burying bass. A funeral procession consisting of costume clothed people bury musical instruments. It is to symbolize the end of noisy and a happy time of carnival.
Plucking feather, takes place in December. Women plume together and make it pleasant by singing folk songs and spinning stories
Harvest home/Żniwniok. An early traditional celebration of harvest. On that day, the villagers carry harvest crown for the thanksgiving mass to the church decorated with the crops. The procession is led by a foreman and forewoman. Later, the procession goes through the village. The climax of the celebration is the crop crowns contest, and it is finalized with sport events, fire brigades show, concerts and dance party. On the occasion almost every family presents, in front of their homes, the scenes of daily life of the village.
Decoration of Easter eggs and Opole ceramics. The tradition of making “kroszonki” (coloured and scratched egg shells) lasts from the Tenth Century. The eggs are coloured with natural methods, decorated with sophisticated plant ornaments, and etched with patterns using a special tool. The unique pattern of “kroszonka” can be transferred onto faience and porcelain, creating porcelain characteristic for The Opole region.
Folk handicraft, although the villages in the region are modern, we still may come across vanishing professions e.g. blacksmiths, willow weavers, potters. Their traditional products are the adornments of the region and continuously attract tourists.
Due to the continuous blending of different influences our region abounds with many characteristic dishes and products. One may discover flavours of Silesia, Czech, and Eastern Territories. Dishes which distinguish themselves with original recipe and exquisite flavours, are on the list of Opole traditional products. They are, amongst others: Opole Żymlok, Buchty and Silesian dumplings, Śliszki and Mołcka, Kołacz Śląski, Opole beef roulade, or a drink ”Kandybał” which originates from Eastern Territories. To achieve these unique flavours, culinary specials must be in pursuit of local taverns and inns.
Examples of Opole regional dishes
Silesian Kołocz. The tradition of this once round baking, reaches the mediaeval times. Nevertheless it was never ordinary regional product- Kołocz is treated as a rite bakery product. There must be no lack of it, when celebrations occur, and just before wedding ceremony, the bride and bridegroom treat almost the whole village to it. Nowadays it is usually a large rectangular yeast cake with poppy seeds, cheese, or apple filling and sprinkled.
Silesian dumplings (called the white dumplings). They are prepared with boiled and grated potatoes, flour and eggs. Most often served with all kinds of roast meat and gravies. The dish is a must for Sunday dinner or during important family celebrations. The recipe is passed on from generation to generation.
Opole beef roulade this traditional dish is prepared from slice of meat in which smoked bacon, onion and pickled cucumbers are rolled. The Roulade is served on Sundays beside Silesian dumplings and “Modroj Kapusta” (a salad of boiled and seasoned red cabbage and bacon).
Silesian Żur (sour soup). This is the semi-finished product used to prepare very appreciated and loved regional dish- Żurek soup, one-pot dish with smoked meat, served with mashed potatoes. In the past housewives prepared it by themselves using rye flour, bread crust, garlic added and seasoned water. It is all pickled in a special pot called ‘Żurok’. Today, ready- prepared Żur can be bought.
White Opole Żymlok. The name comes from the word ‘żymła’, that is a bun, which, apart from pork giblets, onion and seasons, is a component of delicious sausages. Opole Żymloks are called white because they lack of animal blood. The White Opole Żymlok as a traditional product of Opole Silesia region was awarded culinary pearl prize during The Polagra Fair in Poznan.
Kartoffelsalat is a traditional dish consisting of potatoes and bacon (on Christmas eves replaced by herring), sometimes carrots, onions, pickled cucumbers, eggs or mayonnaise may be added.
Silesian heaven is a traditional smoked and cooked meat dipped in a sauce with dried plums, served tossed on ‘Buchta’(large round and puff dumplings of light cream colour).
Gołąbki of buckwheat porridge and potatoes, once in Eastern Territories it was a Christmas dish, today in Silesia it is a common dish. Blanched cabbage leaves are stuffed with buckwheat porridge, potatoes and onions, right after they are ready, those cabbage bundles are sprinkled with freshly melted lard.
Pańćkraut with ribs. This is a potato and cabbage pastry with pieces of old carrot and golden brown greaves, lard and bacon. The dish is served beside cooked ribs, dipped in vegetable stock, which enhance its delicate flavour. It was prepared for “beztydzien”, it means that it was made during a weekday. It stayed as such until nowadays.
Mołcka- traditionally, it ends Christmas Eve meal. This specialty is of sauce consistency, made of ginger-bread, vegetables, dried fruit, and delicacies that bring sweetish flavor. It is served cold or hot.
Szpajza- well known Silesian dessert that consists of jelly, fruit juice or stewed fruit, egg whites, and sugar. Topped with whipped-cream and fruit. Once mainly lemon, today it may be of cherry, or chocolate flavor.