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.

Snuff and the art of making snuff horns

Snuff and the art of making snuff horns

According to Kashubian superstitions, all evil occurrences was the devil’s fault. So, naturally, making snuff was also the devil’s doing. Since cultivation of this plant was easy, its numbers grew in an alarming rate.

According to historical sources, snuff was brought to Pomerania in the 18th century, through trade with Western Europe, as well as via nobility and clergy, among whom using snuff was fashionable. Kashubian people loved the new plant, even though snuff is pretty much tobacco. This fact hadn't discouraged them from "snuffing". According to Kashubian beliefs, it's healthier than smoking tobacco, because "a man doesn't have a chimney in his head to let out smoke", whereas the nose is accustomed to snuffing.

"The diabolic herb" ("Diabelszcze ziele" in Kashubian) is nothing more but powdered tobacco leaves, with mysterious additional ingredients, all mixed in proper proportions. First, it was believed that snuff had medicinal purposes, which further encouraged people to use it. When the custom spread, and frequency of snuffing surpassed medicinal qualities, it became clear that snuff can be addictive and bad to health

The secret lies in proper selection of ingredients. We have to remember that "home-made" snuff, prepared according to traditional, family recipe will have better flavour and overall quality than mass produced one. Compositions of these "home-made" mixes are kept secret by their owners. Often, even family members don't know the recipe. Among unique elements that comprise Kashubian snuff are such ingredients as: young cherry leaves, dried plums, juniper berries, broad bean and bean pods, as well as coffee, amber, and herbs: mint, camomile, and laurel.

Snuff can be produced using only simple pots, crafted by local potters, grinding stick ("tabacznik" , used to grind leaves), and small sieves. Juniper wood was considered the best material for creating a grinding stick. It ground so well that snuff wouldn't stick to it. The final element required to grind tobacco, was a sieve. Made from horse hair on a wooden frame, it was used to sift the product several times in order to use only the most finely grounded plants for further processing. Grounded leaves gained compact texture by being soaked in special liqueur for 24 to 48 hours. After that time it gained marvellous aroma. The custom of snuffing tobacco was so common that even a priest before preaching used to snuff some and treated church goers with some.

How was snuff stored? Large quantities weren't stored in large containers as it was said to diminish snuff's powers, so people began using smaller containers to snuff tobacco directly from them. Snuff is a valuable gift, "normal" containers weren't enough to store tobacco. This got horn carvers working, who created curved horns, valued by all Kashubian people.

Great skills and precision on the side of the craftsman were necessary to create tobacco boxes, but also an idea for a shape. The usual crafting material was small cow horns, several centimetres in length. They usually underwent processing for several hours, being softened with water and flattened in a vice, where the target shape was given. After the shape had settled, ornaments were carved out. The most amazing horns took shapes of tulips, bird heads, or even a pig's mouth on its top. This is also where snuff came out of the horn, straight to a snuffer's nose.

The most beautiful horn snuffboxes are usually used by Kashubians on special occasions. On a daily basis, they carry with them less splendid ones, but "the diabolic herb" goes everywhere a Kashubian would go.