Tradition, folklore, food and drink in Těšín Silesia

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The entire region of Těšín Silesia is famed for its unique folklore. For many centuries this colourful and vibrant culture has brightened up the hard lives of the local people. Regional traditions from three countries – the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia – have put down strong roots here, and still live on today in folklore, customs, handicrafts, distinctive local food and drink, and wonderful festivals.

The local dialect also remains widespread: known as ‘po naszymu’ (meaning simply ‘our language’ or ‘the way we speak’), it is shared by people throughout the region, whatever side of the border they live on. Těšín Silesia also has its own distinctive style of architecture. The traditional wooden buildings include picturesque cottages and timber-built churches – step inside and you are transported back in time. For a taste of traditional local life, you can visit Kotula’s cottage (Kotulova dřevěnka) in Havířov, now a museum, or one of the many wooden churches in the region.
Even on a short visit to Těšín Silesia, you are sure to encounter some aspect of the local folklore – traditional costumes, regional music, handicrafts or folk customs. But the best way to explore the true soul of the region and its traditions is to visit one of the many folklore and festivals held here throughout the year – some of which have been nurturing the local culture for decades. Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture at one of these magical events and you’ll soon forget where the present ends and the past begins, as local people proudly continue to maintain the traditions, customs and crafts of their ancestors. The region also has its own distinctive style of cooking, traditionally based on modest and cheap ingredients that were easily available. Soups have always been at the heart of the local cuisine, and sometimes a soup can be an entire meal – tasty, filling, and nourishing. Among the best-known soups of the region is kapušňonka (or kapušnica), made with sauerkraut to which bacon rind or pig’s trotters might be added for extra richness. Meat was for special occasions, so it was treated with great care – often marinaded, cured, smoked or pickled. The Těšín Beskydy mountains were ideal terrain for sheep-farming, producing not only wool, but also cheeses and lamb or mutton. But most dishes were traditionally meat-free, with potatoes and cabbage dominating the local diet in various forms. A favourite way of cooking potatoes was as pancakes – raw grated potatoes were mixed with a little flour and eggs (if available), and the cakes were cooked on a griddle and eaten with pork fat or cream. Another everyday dish was baked potatoes (known as piečoki) or boiled potatoes served with milk or buttermilk.
The region’s folklore festivals are alive with the rhythms of local folk music, with wonderful performances by singers and dancers. A festival is an unforgettable cultural experience – you can see skilled craftsmen at work, sample delicious local specialities, and make new friends over a glass of the region’s famous ‘mjodula’ (a type of honey- flavoured hot punch) or fruit brandies. All in all, a perfect way to experience the warm welcome of Těšín Silesia and its unique traditional culture.