Festival of Wreaths
Photos by Richard P. Poremski
2004 Wianki Festival of Wreaths
This years Wianki Festival of Wreaths, sponsored by the
Polish American Arts Association of Washington, D.C. on June 26, was made extra
special by the extra special people who attended. PAAAs young adults branch
Connections turned out in force and sponsored its own singer to give a
modern twist to a very old Polish festival. But old traditions were well
represented, too, with a wonderful display in a living history encampment of
Polish Hussars, courtesy of members of Boleslav Orlickis Light Artillery.
Members of Michas Polish Folk Dance Ensemble gave a
fabulous presentation and inspired many in the audience at the steps of the
Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool to get up and join in the dancing. A number of
young women participating in the American Council for Polish Culture Youth
Leadership Conference, which this year celebrated its 10th
anniversary, donned white robes and flower crowns to lay the candle-and-flower
wreaths on the waters of the reflecting pool.
Tom Brzostowki and a member of his band provided some
lively polkas, and General Edward Rowny honored us with a tune on his trusty
The Wianki Festival of Wreaths commemorates the summer
solstice. Polands ancient tribes always celebrated the shortest night and the
longest day of the year with bonfires, games and songs. Church authorities,
however, frowned on ancient pagan rituals having to do with the worship of the
sun, so the deeply rooted summer festival was transformed into one remembering
John the Baptist.
The wreaths that are floated on water hark back to days
when single women would send them sailing in hopes of determining their chances
of catching a husband. If the wreath were caught by a young man, the girl would
marry soon; but if it sank, she would not get a husband that year.