Dożynki is Slavic harvest festival celebrated on the autumn equinox. Nowadays it is celebrated on different days in different regions of Poland (August, September or October).
It comes from the pagan Slavic cult of plants, trees, and agriculture.
It is an opportunity to thank God for a successful harvest, for fun after hard work.
The celebration involves a number of interesting customs and traditions, of which today we associate perhaps the best harvesting wreath, donated as a gift to the altar of the parish church.
The rye and wheat were most commonly used for waving the wreath. Wheat was given magical powers and the rye was associated with the mysterious world of ghosts. Sometimes there were hazel leaves – these were to symbolize the abundance and blessing of God.
The wreath is usually brought back to the village by a ceremonial procession. It is often blessed by a Christian priest.
Dożynki was celebrated in Poland as early as in the sixteenth century. It was time for the game of dances and refreshments – as a reward for well-done harvest work and harvested crops.
They were organized by local governments, agricultural clubs, and parishes. Dożynki was a peasant manifestation of their pride and testimony to the power of national tradition. They were combined with agricultural exhibitions, festivals, and performances of artistic ensembles.