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THE VILLAGERS OF KRÁĽOVÁ NAD VÁHOM, NEAR ŠAĽA, WELCOME SPRING

The myth of Morena lives on

NO ONE ever saw her, but she kept returning at the same time each year. She had existed for centuries, but people always described her as a young woman of 20. They hated her for bringing sickness and evil to their communities, but she was only doing her job.

TO END Morena's reign set her alight and throw her into the river.
photo: TASR

NO ONE ever saw her, but she kept returning at the same time each year. She had existed for centuries, but people always described her as a young woman of 20. They hated her for bringing sickness and evil to their communities, but she was only doing her job.

Her name was Morena and she was the goddess of winter in ancient Slavic mythology. With the arrival of spring, it was customary in Slovak villages to make a straw figure dressed in women's clothes, symbolizing Morena.

A procession of villagers singing old Slavic songs would carry the effigy down to the river. They would then set the winter goddess on fire as punishment for the evil she brought and ritually toss her burning likeness into the water.

Though the custom has largely died out one place where it survives is Humanita farm, near Kráľová nad Váhom, just outside Šaľa near Galanta.

People believed that everything Morena personified would be carried down river with her. Only after this could Vesna, the goddess of spring, assume Morena's mantle and begin her reign. Feasting and dancing would follow.

This year, Morena's winter spell will be broken at the farm on Easter Sunday, March 27. The traditional custom will close the Easter festivities, which start on Good Friday, March 25. Traditional Easter activities such as egg decoration, whip braiding and Easter games will be on offer.

Moreover, visitors will have an opportunity to look at more than 20 kinds of animals living on the farm, including typical domestic animals and exotic breeds such as ostriches and lamas.

Children will be given a chance to see the world from the back of a pony or horse.

For more informatin check www.farmahumanita.sk.

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