Janina Cieślak and Helena Marzol have always lived in the village of Bolesławów (Province of Wielkopolska). They were even born here, at home. They are 60 years old now. When they were young, they helped their parents in the farm, they made fieldwork. When winter came, they eagerly awaited ... feathers plucking. And why?
Feathers plucking is a very old custom. Once, there was no television, the evenings were long, especially in winter. Then, people got bored. And feathers plucking was a good fun, especially when men used to let a sparrow inside to make a stir among women. Feathers flew around and some women got angry, others laughed. The atmosphere was great. But such old days have gone by. "Today, we rarely even remember this, and cultivation of this tradition is out of the question," says Ms. Janina.
Helena has recently become a grandmother again. As a result of this event, she decided to fill a pillow for her granddaughter. When asked how many feathers she needed for such pillow, she said she needed about 25 grams of feathers. As regards the question of weight, Ms. Helena is an expert; she made quilts filled with feathers many a time.
Both ladies smile when mention songs remembered from the time of feathers plucking. They were happy to recollect them and sang:
1. Green little bridge bends, green little bridge bends.
The grass grows on it, not chopped. The grass grows on it, not chopped.
2. If I were to build this little bridge, were to build this little bridge.
I would design it well, design it well.
3. I would plant red and white roses, plant red and white roses.
And you girl, I would accompany you, accompany you.
4. I would accompany you to the forest, accompany you to the forest
And then, I would call hop-sa sa, call hop-sa sa.
This song is very lively. Ladies' legs start bouncing to dance. They also remember that there were dances held after feathers plucking sometimes. There was great joy. Sometimes, ladies sang a sad, melancholic songs. Here is the text of one of them:
1. She sowed little rye, the green rose, oh you do not know mummy, mummy oh you do not know for whom I longed.
Oh, you do not know mummy, mummy oh you do not know for whom I longed.
2. Oh, I am longing, longing for my Johnny, should I knew the way, I would go to him, would go to him.
If I knew the way, I would go to him, would go to him.
3. But I do not know the way, I am ashamed to ask; Johnny, my lover, and I, we have not seen for a month.
Johnny, my lover, and I, we have not seen for a month.
4. She went to the living room, she stood at the door, Johnny is drinking beer, drinking beer with other girls.
Johnny is drinking beer, drinking beer with other girls.
Johnny appears in many other songs, eagerly sang while plucking feathers. Here are the words of another:
1. In the field, stands a pear tree, gives sweet pears, tell me my love, who comes to you.
2. No one comes to me, I swear, only my Johnny, who danced with me.
3. He knocks on the window, open little girl, open, open my love, open your window.
4. I will not open because I am afraid of my mother, I have thousands of others, I do not care about you.
5. She gets on the horse, her face gets pale, come back, come back my Johnny, I did not recognize you.
6. I did not recognise you and your horse, the one that I tied to a white pole.
Chanting during plucking feathers can be safely regarded as a duty. It's hard to imagine the long hours of feather work without singing. Old ladies remember those songs and still hum them. I wish we would not forget them. Perhaps, this little pillow, commonly known as Johnny, just took its name from songs sang while plucking feathers?
Published by: Anna Nowak.