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Kashubian History and Culture; Kaszubi / Historia i Kultura Kaszubów

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Kashubian History and Culture

This project is to focus on the history of the Kashubian people and their unique culture, traditions and language. Kashubians are not German nor Polish. Since 2005, the Kashubian language enjoys legal protection by the Polish government as a minority language. Kashubian is taught in Polish schools and is found on many street signs in the region.

Historians and linguists have argued amongst themselves as to the origin of the Kashubians. But they agree that for over 1,500 years, the Kashubs have lived along the shore of the Baltic Sea. Their traditional occupations were fishing and farming. Today most Kashubians live in Pomerania in the area bounded by Gdańsk in the north and Konarzyny in the south. In addition to the traditional occupations, tourism plays a major role in the area.

Sizable communities of Kashubians exist in Canada, the U.S., and Germany. In Canada, they are primary in Renfrew County, Ontario. In the U.S. many people of Kashubian descent live in Chicago, Milwaukee, other parts of Wisconsin, and Winona, Minnesota . Efforts are being made in these countries to preserve the Kashubian culture.


Ten projekt skupia się na historii Kaszubów, ich unikalnej kulturze, tradycji i języku. Kaszubi nie są ani Niemcami, ani Polakami. Są oddzielną grupą etniczną uznaną przez polski rząd od roku 2005. Historycy i językoznawcy spierają się między sobą co do pochodzenia Kaszubów. Zgadzają się natomiast, że od ponad 1500 lat, Kaszubi żyją wzdłuż brzegu Morza Bałtyckiego. Ich tradycyjnymi zawodami było rybołówstwo i rolnictwo. Dziś większość Kazubów mieszka na Pomorzu w obszarze między Gdańskiem na północy i Konarzynami na południu. W regionie tym oprócz tradycyjnych zawodów ważną odgrywa turystyka. Spore społeczności Kaszubów istnieją w Kanadzie, Stanach Zjednoczonych i Niemczech . W Kanadzie, głównie w Renfrew County, Ontario. W USA są w Chicago, Milwaukee, innych części Wisconsin, i Winona, Minnesota. W krajach tych podejmuje się wiele udanych działań w celu zachowania kultury kaszubskiej.




1. Muzeum Kaszubskiego im. Franciszka Tredera w Kartuzach (Polish) (English)

2. Muzeum Kaszubskiej Ceramiki Neclów w Chmielowie

3. Muzeum Wsi Słowińskiej w Klukac http://ww

4. Muzeum Ziemi Zaborskiej we Wielu /page,175,_MUZEUM_ZIEMI_ZABORSKIEJ_I_KALW...

5. Muzeum Piśmiennictwa i Muzyki Kaszubsko-Pomorskiej w Wejherowie

6. Muzeum Ziemi Puckiej im. Floriana Ceynowy w Pucku (Polish) (English)


8. Kaszubski Dom Rękodzieła Ludowego - Swornegacie


1. Polish Kashub Heritage Museum, Wilno, Ontario


1. Polish Cultural Institute, Inc. & Museum, Winona, MN


* Kashubian Embroidery - Haft Kaszubski

The tradition of Kashubian embroidery was started by the Norbertine sisters in Żukowo around 1209. Initially, all embroidered motifs were one color, decorated with silver or gold threads . The sisters especially liked decorating bonnets and vestments.

The pioneers of modern Kashubian embroidery were Izydor and Teodora Gulgowscy. They lived in Wdzydze Kiszewskie. As with any art, the art of embroidery has evolved. Today in Poland there is the Żukowo school, the Wdzydzka school, the Puck school, the Chojnice school and many other schools in the Kashubian region. Each school has its own unique design(s) and style(s).

In Renfrew County, Kashubian embroidery became a lost art. Canadian patterns were much easier to obtain. Today Kashubian embroidery has been revived and is taught in the local elementary schools.

The inspiration for Kashubian embroidery motifs comes from nature. Many compositions are flowers (sunflowers, cornflowers, pansies, roses) and insects (bees and beetles). In other compositions Kashubians embroider the "tree of life " The branches of the "tree of life" do not cross, overlap or intertwine because human life should be simple and transparent.

Traditional Kashubian embroidery has seven colours.These colours are: DARK BLUE represents the Baltic Sea; MEDIUM BLUE represents the colour of the Kashubian Lakes; LIGHT BLUE for the sky; YELLOW represents both the sand and wheat; GREEN represents meadows and forests; RED symbolizes the heart and love and the blood shed in defense of the homeland; and BLACK the earth.

There is a famous legend associated with Kashubian embroidery. It starts off with a granddaughter that brings dinner to her grandmother. During the long journey, the grandaughter gets her snow-white apron dirty. When the grandmother sees how sad her granddaughter is, she takes the apron to the meadows. There she gathers the many flowers, draws them on the apron and then embroiders them with colourful threads. This is the beginning of Kashubia embroidery.

For information in Polish: (Polish)

* Ceramics - Ceramika

Designs in ceramics are simple and are based on centuries-old traditions. Traditional designs include stars, fish scales and flowers all embellished with wavy lines and dots.

* Weaving - Tkactwo

The Kashubians are great weavers. They even manage to weave buckets and jugs from pine roots and straw capable of holding water. Many of the thatched roofs in the Kashubian region are the results of a skilled weaver.


The Kaszuby dances are mostly gentle, joyful and graceful. Although they have many characteristic traits of the dances from the rest of Poland, especially from the neighboring regions of Warmia, Wielkopolska and even Slask, they reveal obvious Swedish and German influences both in music and in dance steps.

Description and History of Kaszuby Dances

1. DZEK [dzehk] – WILD DANCE

Dzek was originally a men’s dance and only later, a woman’s part was added. The name is either derived from the noun dzik [dzeek] (boar), or the adjective dziki [DZEE-kee] (wild). The latter word is probably more justified, as the story has it that the peaceful Kashubian fishermen learned it from the wild pirates who roamed the seas. The pirates and the fishermen soon became good friends and were often in alliance against the mighty landlords who may have exploited the Kashubian peasants and fought the pirates. The pirates often supplied the Kashubians with material goods and in return they knew that in the Kashubian homes they could safely nurse their wounds suffered in fights, without having their hiding place betrayed to the authorities. The lonely, hard working, and monotonous Kashubian existence was enlivened by the visiting pirates who came with loot, spirits, and partying. No wonder then that some piratical customs, including the dances, have been imitated by the fishermen.

2. MRUSZKA [mah-roosh-kah] – LITTLE MARY

The name Maria (Mary), given very often to newborn girls in Poland (Marian to boys), has very many endearments, Marysia, Mania, Maryla, to mention just a few. Maruszka, Mareszka, or Marychna [mah-RIH'H-nah], Maruchna [mah-ROO'H-nah] are the Kashubian versions, popularized in many songs. The dance done to theses tunes is charming and flirtatious. Originally from Smolno [SMOHL-noh] and known for a long time all over the Kaszuby region, it shows Scandinavian and German influences.


Rebacki tonc – in the Kashubian dialect, or Taniec rybacki [TAH-nyets rih-BAH-tskee] – in literary polish, is a men’s dance. It used to be a part of rites which the Kashubian people practiced before and after their fishing expeditions. Successful fishing, as the main source of food and livelihood, was as crucial to them as successful harvest is to farmers. If a shoal of herring, salmon, or sprat was rumored, every able body would drop whatever they were doing at the moment, be it even attendance at a church service, or participation in a wedding, baptismal, or any other party, and run to the shore to either help in the preparations for the fishing trip and/or take part in it. With the passing of years, the fishing rites were discontinued but the dance stayed on. It expressed the joy of a successful fishing trip and was also a show-off in front of womenfolk. Actually, all the onlookers bolstered the dancers’ spirit by calling heja hip [HEH-yah HIP!] at the end of musical phrases. The rhythm of the dance was enhanced by men wearing Dutch-like wooden clogs, called korki [KOHR-kee] in Kashubian.

The use of korki gave the dance a special character and it also made the execution of the steps more difficult. In their right hand the dancers would carry a kufel [KOO-fehl] (beer mug), since beer, not wine, was the Kashubian fisherman’s drink. That is why the dance is also called kuflorz [KOO-flohsh]. Sometimes the dance would end with the fishermen breaking the mugs by hitting them against each other until all but two were left. In some localities instead of mugs the dancers carried pipes or red checkered handkerchiefs. Could it be that after breaking all the mugs, they could not afford new ones?

4. KOSEDER [Koh-SEH-dehr]

The Kashubian people consider the Koseder their most representative dance and they believe that as long as it is done, Kashubians will exist. Like Chodzony [hoh-DZOH-nih] (old walking dance), or Polonaise, in other parts of Poland, Koseder is danced at the beginning or as an opening to any seasonal, family, or work celebrations. Doing it is proof that this family, or locality, or community adheres to the old Slavic Kashubian traditions. Therefore, although it is not a slow dance, it is done with a certain amount of pride and dignity and is led by the oldest or most honorable couple of the gathering.

There are several theories about the origin of the name Koseder (in the Kashubian dialect an accent is placed on the first “e”). It is supposedly derived from the word Kosej or kusej [KOH-sey, KOO-sey], a 19th century word for banquet, or from the expression na ukos [nah OO-kohs] (diagonally), as there is a diagonal movement of the leg in the main step. A dance named Kosejder [koh-SEY-dehr], done differently, is known in the neighboring region of Warmia and Mazury [VAHR-myah & mah-ZOO-rih].


Woltok a dance for 1 man and 2 women from the Puck [pootsk] area in the northern part of the Kaszuby region. In some localities Swarzewo [svah-ZHEH-voh] and Wielka Wies [VYEHL-kah VYEHSH] it is called Wetrodnik [veh-TROCY-neek] (dance for three). The name Woltok means “quarrelling waves” in the Kashubian dialect. And it truly is a dance of the sea. In the music you can hear the swaying rhythm of the waves.


All over the world, there have been and always will be shy young lads who do not dare to speak, and even more, to dance with young ladies, and are most comfortable in the company of their male friends. Such was also the case in the Kaszuby region. The situation was aggravated by the fact that sea fishing, the main occupation there, kept them away from social life. As a result, near the town of Kartuzy, a song was born in which the impatient girl teased the shy young man, who was often called mruk or mruczek [MROOK, MROO-chehk] (grumbler). Later on, we are told, somewhere between the years 1895 and 1905, first a game and then a dance came into being. During the festivities of, weddings, St. John’s Eve, or harvest, the girls took the initiative (as in Sadie Hawkin’s Day) and with that special dance coaxed young men to dance with them. And so, Okrac se wkol became what is called a “white” waltz in Poland, or ”ladies choice” in the United States. In some localities the dance was also called Wol [voow] (ox dance).

(adapted from