Polish Palm Sunday in Łyse (Kurpie, Poland)

Hidden in the forests of Puszcza Zielona (the Green Wilderness) in the Mazovian region of Kurpie, there’s a small village called Łyse.

Every year on Palm Sunday, the village transforms into a place full of people, music, and… colourful palms. Łyse Parish is renowned for its wonderful palm procession, with some of the paraded palms exceeding 20 feet (6 meters) in height!

With Łyse only 2 hours away from Warsaw, I’ve decided it’s high time to finally experience this event for myself – especially since it’s the first one after a 2-year break, caused by the pandemic.

Here’s the secret to a stunning palm –
Traditionally, the palm-making process starts at the beginning of Lent. A pine branch gets wrapped and decorated with bright and vibrant flowers made of crêpe paper.

Green juniper bushes, bilberry bushes and blooming willow branches are attached to the top, for extra height and a majestic look.

Creating an impressive palm is an extremely laborious project, often involving the whole family – but the efforts are well rewarded. Each year, the most beautiful palm gets a prize and recognition from everyone attending.

On that day, many locals wear their regional Kurpian costumes. The colourful palms complement their outfits beautifully.

After the palm procession, one can recharge at the Kurpian Market (‘Jarmark Kurpiowski’), full of regional food, drink and handicraft.

The delicacies that drew my attention were:
fafernuchy (Kurpian cookies), rejbak (Krupian potato babka), piwo kozicowe (juniper beer), an insane variety of local honey, breads, fermented veggies, cold meats and kiełbasa (often made with venison).

Oh, and litres upon litres of homemade nalewki (plural of ‘nalewka’, infused and aged Polish liqueurs) in every imaginable flavour: elderberry, aronia (chokeberry), hazelnut, quince, plum, young pine shoots…

I loved the general vibe of this market. It felt like buying from a neighbour, rather than a professional seller. I had a chat with a few of the vendors – some of them run local shops or sell their products to larger stores – but others prepare these homemade foods specifically for this event.

Charming DIY labels, reused jars and bottles were giving away the homemade origins of these products.

As you can imagine, I came back home with my backpack stuffed to the brim…

If you’re in Poland around Easter time, definitely consider visiting Łyse on Palm Sunday.

📌 Where? Łyse
🗺️ Address: 07-437 Łyse, Ostrołęka County, Masovian Voivodeship (Google Map)

2022 Events: My itinerary

I love taking part in events, talks, festivals and conferences – both online & offline – especially in the space of Polish culinary traditions, storytelling and Varsavianism.

Every year I make a list of the events I’ve attended, so that it’s easier for me to reference them later.

2022 so far:

13 January

“Rozmowa ze smakiem. Kuchnia polska na talerzach świata” (“Tasteful conversation. Polish cuisine on the plates of the world”)
online event with prof. Jarosław Dumanowski, organised by Polonika Institute
FB event, FB video (in Polish)

26 January

“Kasze w roślinnej kuchni regionalnej” (“Groats in plant-based regional Polish cuisine”)
online author’s meeting with Paweł Ochman, organised by Wydawnictwo Marginesy and Instytut Reportażu
FB event, FB video (in Polish)

17 February

“Majonez z ozora – Kuchnia dwudziestolecia międzywojennego” (“Beef Tongue Mayo – the Cuisine of the Interwar Years”)
online event organised by Villa Intrata (Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów)
FB event (in Polish)

26 February

“Fact-telling. Jak opowiadać o faktach, by być słuchanym.” (“Fact-telling. How to tell facts to be listened to.”)
full-day workshop introducing critical and systems thinking, framing and actor-network theory; organised by Sceptyczni Trenerzy

1 March

“Jedzenie i inne rzeczy” (“Food and other things”)
online author’s meeting with dr Ewa Kopczyńska, organised by Kawiarnia Literacka and Instytut Socjologii Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego (Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University)
FB event (in Polish)

4 March

„Kuchmistrzostwo” i misja kuchmistrza” (“Cookery” and chef’s mission”)
online event organised by Villa Intrata (Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów) with prof. Jarosław Dumanowski and Maciej Nowicki
FB video (in Polish)

10 March

“Ukraina. Jedzenie i historia” (“Ukraine. Food and history”)
online event organised by Villa Intrata (Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów) with Ihor Lylo and Maciej Nowicki.
FB video (in Polish)

10 March

“O ziemiańskich tradycjach wielkopostnych” (“On gentry traditions of Lent”)
online event organised by Muzeum Pana Tadeusza (Museum of Pan Tadeusz) and Festiwal Nowe Epifanie (The New Epiphanies Festival)
FB video (in Polish)

12 March

[Exhibition] “Od kuchni. Żydowska kultura kulinarna” (“What’s Cooking? Jewish Culinary Culture”)
Guided curator’s tour through the temporary exhibition with Magdalena Maślak and Tamara Sztyma, at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
More here

Upcoming 2022 events:

28 February postponed
“Rozmowy o polskim stole” (“Conversations about the Polish table”) online chat with Dorota Dias-Lewandowska, anthropologist and historian, specialising in Polish drinking culture.
online event organised by Muzeum Polskiej Wódki (Polish Vodka Museum)
FB event