Steeped in history and symbolism, pająki (pronounced pah-yonk-ee), are enchanting folk decorations, traditionally made from straw, paper, wool, feathers and dried peas. Variations can be found all over Eastern Europe and Scandinavia (see our blog about straw crowns), where, delicate and light, the chandeliers hang from ceilings in winter, spinning gently in the breeze for the season’s celebrations. Their origins and full history are difficult to uncover, as few original early designs survive today. It is the scarcity of pająki that drives Karolina’s passion and drive to keep the tradition alive.
Straw and rye are key elements of a pająk, mainly because of their length and strength, but also because they were an important, symbolic part of country life. After the harvest, spare pieces of straw were kept to be used for making pająki and other decorations. As well as being scattered on the floor and under the table to protect the house from evil spirits, it was believed that the straw of a hanging pająk would bring a good harvest, prosperity and happiness in the coming year. This Christmas pająk was then burned as a symbol and to affirm the awakening of nature.
In the Christmas pająki workshop, Karolina will show participants how to create these enchanting folk decorations using rye straw, paper discs and traditional 'kalinka' pom poms. Each “Kalinka” pom pom is made of 15 layers of hand twisted tissue paper. By the end of a workshop you will have learnt to make a colourful pająk to decorate your house this winter.
Bookings for the workshop must close 3 weeks ahead of the start date. Book tickets here: Christmas pająki workshop with Karolina Merska
Image: All images courtesy Karoline Merska