Culture in Poznań



Happy Name Day!

One of Poznań's most positive and joyful holidays, Święty Marcin Street Name Day, will again, for the second time, be overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic. And yet, by all indications, we should be able to meet in person and celebrate together. Don't miss it: it's Święty Marcin Street on 11-14 November.

Photo from previous St. Martin parade: picture of St. Martin street with performers and people watching the show on left and right side of the street. Buildings in the background. - grafika artykułu
photograph: Grzegorz Dembiński/Polska Press

An enormous sculpted hand in a blue virus-protection glove placed last year in front of the main entrance to the Castle Cultural Centre proclaimed the Street's first pandemic-era name day without the usual colorful parade, the fair and the concerts. As this most joyful of Poznań's holidays conincided with the very peak of the autumn pandemic wave, there was simply no way it could be held in-person. Nevertheless, the organisers went out of their way to preserve the spirit of solidarity, empathy and care for one another, for which this popular event has been known in and beyond Poznań, and conjur it up despite Covid restrictions. The symbol that set the scene for this first challenging edition of the Name Day was the Together in a Pandemic sculpture by the two Poznań-based manual-art and performing artists Ewa Bone and Ewa Kozubal, who incorporated into their work the universal historic sign of V for victory of two fingers pointing to the sky out of an otherwise clenched fist. 

The same message is being revived for this year's Street Name Day, this time additionally amidst the humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border. "The focus of this year's Street Name Day is the humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border. At two of our meetings, we will ponder on how so many of us can justify cruelty to people in need. We will invite activists involved in helping refugees", say the organisers as they announce this central part of the event. They add: "Faced with a persistent Covid threat, we sought to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. We will therefore abandon any events that may bring too many people together at a single venue, such as the parade, the ceremonial passing of the city key or the closing concert. Our decisions are additionally affected by the scheduled Święty Marcin Street renovation between ul. Gwarna and the Kaponiera roundabout". 

Despite these challenges, throughout the long weekend, the renovated section of Święty Marcin Street will see numerous activists doing good work and NGOs working for people with refugee experience. You may get a taste of the annual parade, and enjoy music, sports demonstrations and circus and dance performances (the programme is not finalised yet). 

A four-day croissant fair to be held in front of the Castle will offer not only traditionally baked dough, but also handicrafts and other attractive items. "We have been trying for years to make the Poznań Independence Day celebration a joyful event that unites all of the city's inhabitants. This year, we plan not only to have fun together but also to reflect on whether the life of Saint Martin, the Street's parton whose Name Day we are celebrating, still carries the power to inspire us all", say the organizers. "Saint Martin was a soldier who, on encountering a half-naked beggar on a winter day, shared a half of his coat with him. He did not ask about the beggar's origin, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or political views. Who would we share our coat with today? Who needs it the most? Saint Martin's horseback ride through the streets of Poznań has drawn thousands of viewers for years. Today we want to go beyond the ritual and explore the message conveyed by the Saint's actions", add the organisers ahead of this year's celebration.

Sylwia Klimek

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

"I do GOOD" Święty Marcin Street Name Day

11-14 Nov., 11am-7pm

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© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2021