January 12, 2022

“Bearded men” on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

“Bearded men” from Sławatycze the custom of saying goodbye to the old year has been inscribed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is a male form of New Year's carolling, practiced only in Sławatycze, Biała Podlaska County, Lublin Province.

During three last days of a year, young men from the village wear special colourful dresses and transform themselves into so called „the Bearded Men”. Afterwards, they go out on the streets approaching observers and passers-by with impunity, running after children, pinching women, stopping drivers and visiting homes wishing all the best.

Their outfit consists of:

  • a long, linen beard;
  • a leather mask with red rimmed openings for mouth and eyes;
  • a soaring cap furnished with colorful flowers and very long ribbons reaching the ground;
  • a long sheepskin wrapped or stuffed with straw and arms and legs tied with ropes.

The bearded man's attribute is a hump and long stick in his hand as a sign of declining years. The cane was used to support, swing, bump, and even embrace tossing maidens. It is supposed to bring good luck. The activity of bearded men is accompanied by shouts, inarticulate sounds, roars while making mischief and pranks. And all these efforts serve to make the captured people happy throughout the next year. At the end, just before the New Year's Eve, they undress and burn some parts of their, made of straw, clothes.

Fot. A. Trochimiuk