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Highlanders Culture in Brief

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The ethnical group inhabiting the highland area between the Tatra Mountains (in the south) and the Western Beskid Mountains (in the north) is called the ''Podhale Gorale''. The name derives from the word ''gory'' (mountains) and the region where Zakopane, the unofficial capital of the Podhale Gorale, is situated. This ethnical group, believed to have originated from the 15-th century Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Vlach and Slovak shepherds, has developed its own culture over the centuries. One of the elements of their culture is, of course, their ''podhalanski'' dialect (deriving from tthe name of the region – Podhale), which is understandable to people from the other parts of Poland.

 The traditional clothing

What distinguishes the Podhale Gorale from others is not only their language, but their clothing, food and music as well. As for the clothing, the Gorale men traditionally wear a white linen shirt, a black waistcoat, felt trousers with the embroidered patterns, moccasins (called ''kierpce'' in their dialect). The patterns are usually the plants of the Podhale region. For the most formal occasion, they would also wear a white felt cape over one of the shoulders and a leather belt around the waist. The women tend to wear a decorative cotton blouse, a flowing skirt with floral patterns, a white cotton bonnet and moccasins.


The Highlanders cuisine

zakopane highkanders cuisineThe Gorale cuisine is part of their culture. It is mainly based on greasy meat and cheese. Of all meats, pork, lamb and mutton are the most popular ones with the Podhale Gorale. The most famous food, making the Gorale and Zakopane famous all over the world, is the ''oscypek'' – salty sheep cheese in the shape of a spindle. Some smoke it. The other foods, equally tasty and typical of the Podhale region, are as follows:
  • ''bundz'' (sometimes spelt ''bunc'') – delicious cottage cheese made from sheep milk, which, after being soaked in salty wate, is smoked
  • ''moskol'' – a type of a potato pancake
  • ''korbacz'' – similar to oscypek, but made from the cow's milk
  • ''kwasnica'' – the local soup made from sauerkraut and meat.
The local cuisine dishes are also based on potatoes, thus, in Zakopane one can taste all kinds of dumplings called ''karpiele'', ''tarciochy'', ''haluski'', ''bukty'', etc. The traditional desert is known as ''bombolki z miodem'' (yeast biscuits covered with honey). Of the beverages, the highlander's tea is world famous as it contains alcohol ... thus, makes you energetic and warm.

The folk art and music

Zakopane traditions
The Gorale still practise their folk art which generally features religious themes. It is in the Podhale region that one can find lots of crude pine sculptures typical of this ethnical group. However, the most distinctive and visible to all the tourists is the Zakopane Style, created by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, reflected in the town architecture. One of the best examples is the Villa Kola in Zakopane. Music also constitues an integral part of the Gorale culture. It is performed on the traditional instruments (including double basses, fiddles, bagpipe) and the local stringed ones called ''gesle'' and ''zlobcoki''. The music is lively. The same refers to their folk dance which is full of revolving around each other, and is not a pair dance. There must be something about both the Gorale dance and music as more than 1.5 million tourists come to Zakopane to attend the International Highland Folklore Festival every year.

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