The Southern Kashuby. The land of hills and lakes.

Co warto zobaczyć na Kaszubach - atrakcje Kaszub

From the lakes and hills to the valleys full of tastes and covered by the green grass. Form the classical sniffing tobacco to the Kashubian strawberry full of the summer sun. From the Kashubian old huts to museums showing the variety of the tradition of the region. The Southern Kashuby, the area from Zukowo to Przechlewo are fascinating with the landscapes and the culture.

The Southern or the Northern Kashuby? If You would ask such question to someone, who loves this region, for sure it would be impossible to answer that. This region is very diverse with the incomparable features and history.

Kashubian Switzerland... so hills and lakes

“Kashubian Switzerland” – this is how w describe the central part of Kashuby. The name is not accidental. This part has the biggest highs differences full of hills and lakes. It is located close to Wiezyca peak (329 m. above the sea level), the highest hill not only in Kashuby and the Northern Poland but in the European Plain. There is also the Kashubian Landscape Park here with beech trees, pines and spruce forests, unique bird species (like the sea ducks “Mergini” or boreal owl) or bats and even the common European viper. Through the Southern Kashuby goes the red tourists trail, very popular among the walkers as well as the cyclists. In the winter time, the area near Wiezyca is a fantastic place for skiing. In the Summer time it is worth climbing the platform on the top of the hill and admire the view.

Wiezyca, Fot: Kaszubski Park Krajobrazowy

Kashubian Switzerland that is not only hilly landscape and post glacier lakes. That is also a culture and tradition, You can find almost everywhere. The names of cities and villages are written in two languages – Kashubian and Polish. You can hear Kashubian language, a mixture of Polish and German almost everywhere. It is difficult to understand what Kashubian people are saying. Luckily, people where are very friendly and kind, sow hen they see you do not understand, they turn into Polish.

The capital of Kashubia?

Which city is the capital of Kashuby region? No one knows and there are debates about it . Usually, it is said that the capital of the whole Kashubian region is Kartuzy, some people say that it is rather Koscierzyna. On the other hand, when we drive into Gdansk, we see the sign: Gdansk, the capital of Kashuby.  And how to decide now?

Rynek w Kościerzynie, Fot: UM Kościerzyna

Nevertheless, Kartuzy, situated at the four lakes, is that city which promotes Kashuby the most. Already before the WWII Kartuzy were the centre of Kashubian Switzerland. Tourists were coming here all year long, visiting former Carthusian Abbey and swimming on the lakes. Today there is a Kashubian Museum here with the name of F. Treder, with big collection of the artefact of the historical and folk culture of Kashuby.

Kashuby - cultura and traditions

Near Kartuzy, in the Kashubian Landscape Park, there is Chmielno. A small village, extremely popular among sailors and the lovers of Kashubian pottery. For generations the family of Necel lived here, known around Poland for their passion to pottery. Till today they produce by hand traditional Kashubian vases, tableware, pitchers or bowls with the traditional patterns of tulips, lilies, fish scales or Kashubian star.

  Pottery Museum in Chmielno, Fot:

Those decorations are also traditional motives of Kashubian painting on glass and the embroidery. There are several Kashubian embroidery schools, depending on the region.

Travelling deeper  in the region, passing Koscierzyna with its renovated Old Town and famous Old Brewery, where the traditional Kashubian beer is brewed, we shall reach Wdzydze Kiszewskie. It is a touristic village, a true heaven for lake lovers and history enthusiasts. Wdzydze Kiszewskie is situated at the Golun Lake, ant the oldest Polish open air museum is situated here – The Kashubian Ethnographic Park. It was established in 1906 and till today is one of the most important historical attraction in Pomerania region and Poland.

Sunset in Wdzydze Kiszewskie, Fot: LOT Serce Kaszub

The Southern Kashuby hypnotize and fascinate. It is love at the first sight and who will fall in love with this area will love it forever.

Folk costume

Folk costume

     There were no jeans, hooded blouses or several styles of shoes; instead people wore coifs, shirts, waistcoats and high-top boots which indicated high social status. This is the traditional Kashubian folk costume, which was adjusted to the contemporary living conditions, the climate and the type of homestead.
Despite the fact that the traditional Kashubian costumes disappeared in the second half of the 19th Century, through the power of culture, we can today admire its reconstructed version. According to tradition, and out of respect for religion, Kashubians wore the holiday costume only during church celebrations, family events and festivals, while in weekdays they used everyday clothes.

One of the most characteristic elements of the men's costume was the "kapuza", a huge hat made of lamb's leather, which in the summer was replaced with a straw hat. Russet coats were made in deep blue with creases in the back, and a long narrow belt and a red-edged collar constituted the outerwear. The russet coat was rather uncomfortable and impractical for everyday chores, so men replaced it with two-rowed waistcoats, under which they wore white linen shirts. The costume was complemented with sackcloth trousers. The most important element of the traditional men's costume was shoes. They denoted the affiliation to a given social class and the level of affluence. Therefore, the most suitable shoes for a Sunday Mass were black leather shoes with long tops.

The most typical element of the women's costume were woifs. These velvet marvels, called "złotnice", decorated with traditional Kashubian embroidery, with the use of silk threads surrounded by fine golden or silver filament. Such masterpieces could be worn only by married women. Similar to shoes in the case of men, woifs designated women's social status. The most expensive hats, made in cloisters in Żuków and Żarowiec, could be afforded only by the richest ladies. Ordinary women wore złotnice decorated with a golden or silver filament. Other elements of women's clothing were long-sleeved linen shirts on which bodices were worn. The essential element of each woman's clothing was broad-pleated skirts in deep blue, bronze or green.

The costume was complemented with an apron, silk on holidays, and linen on weekdays. In severe winters Kashubian women wore jupy and kabaty, i.e. warm jackets. It's common knowledge that every woman likes ornaments, trinkets and beads. Kashubian women also decorated their clothes with beads made of amber or glass, they wore silver rings with amber stones, and covered their legs with white stockings and low shoes with bowknots.

Nowadays the fashion for folk elements of clothing has returned, and Kashubian costume is increasingly often used by people dealing with presenting tourist attractions in the region. The open-air village museum in Wdzydze Kiszewskie, the Centre for the Education and Promotion of the Region, or some accommodation facilities, are just of a few examples of places where guides or hosts wear the reconstructed version of Kashubian folk costume. Sometimes it is worth wearing something unconventional and going back to the distant past to feel what it was like without branded clothes and expensive jewellery, with only hand-made ornaments...