Poland's Favourite Dogs and their Annual Parade through Kraków
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default, Poland's Favourite Dogs and their Annual Parade through Kraków, Photo from The Dachshund Parade in 2006, photo by Elżbieta Kasperska / East News, Photo from The Dachshund Parade in 2006, photo by Elżbieta Kasperska / East News
Every autumn since 1994, Kraków has hosted the Dachshund Parade ("Marsz Jamników"), a super-cute event featuring hundreds of costumed sausage dogs from all over the world. But just why do Poles love wiener dogs so much?
The 25th Dachshund Parade takes place on 15th September 2019, from 10:00 to 2:00, starting at the entrance of the Kraków Barbican and ending at the Rynek Główny. It is no coincidence that this yearly honour is bestowed on this particular breed; Poles have always had a soft spot for the short-legged hounds.
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This year’s theme is 'Jamnik & I – A Pair With Flair!' Radio Kraków, the long-time organiser of the event, will host the competition after the parade has made its way to the Rynek Główny.
Jamnik is the Polish word for a wiener dog (or sausage dog to the Brits), most commonly known as the German dachshund. Bred for the German royal houses to hunt badgers, rabbits, and foxes from the 15th century onward, the dachshund later became a celebrated icon. From Waldi, the dachshund of the 1972 Munich Olympics, to Pablo Picasso’s Lump, Andy Warhol’s Archie, John F. Kennedy’s Dunker, or even Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund, a current Internet phenomenon, the wiener dog has always been a fashionable pet in numerous cultures.
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The jamnik has a very special rank in Poland, however. Jamniki (the Polish plural of a singular jamnik) are not only long-time companions in many Polish households or buddies to children on the streets, they are also associated with certain uniquely Polish things. For example, due to its 508-metre length, Jamnik is also the name of a communist housing complex built in 1973 in the Praga district of Warsaw. Another Varsovian jamnik appears on the city’s Solaris Urbino 18 low-floor articulated buses. While this particular kind of public transport is referred to as a caterpillar bus or even a banana bus in most English-speaking countries, Poles chose the logo of a green jamnik for it.
Another famous jamnik is an extended version of the Polski Fiat 125p – a Polish car that was manufactured from the late 60s until the 90s under license from the Italian company Fiat. A famous image is of John Paul II standing in a Polski Fiat 125p jamnik in front of Częstochowa cathedral during his visit from the Vatican to Poland in 1979.
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Some suggest the dachshund first appeared in Kraków over 500 years ago, and currently Poland stands among the top breeders. Dachshunds are the most ubiquitous dogs in Kraków, and what started as a local homage has now turned into an international parade of dog-lovers. The king of 2014 came from Galicia, but the queen flew in all the way from Tennessee, USA.
Traditionally, the march begins promptly at noon after hearing the hejnal – a five-note Polish anthem, also referred to as St. Mary’s trumpet call, representing the history of Kraków. The hejnal is played hourly, but the noon performance is broadcast via radio to the whole of Poland and abroad. Accordingly, the wiener dogs begin their march on what is referred to as the Royal Route, in front of the 15th-century Kraków Barbican (Barbakan Krakowski) leading on to St. Florian’s Street (Ulica Floriańska), and then pass by St. Mary’s Basilica (Kościół Mariacki) as they enter the Main Market Square, which was declared by Lonely Planet in 2014 to be Europe’s most beautiful square. The same route has been home to Polish royal coronation processions and parades, as well as kings’ receptions.
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The 25th anniversary of the parade not only celebrates Poland’s love for the breed, but also provides a public platform to promote dog health and care, while dog-lovers and owners march along the Royal Route with their beloved jamniki dressed up in a wide range of amusing costumes. The winners are announced at the end of the event on a special stage set up in the heart of the Main Market Square.
If you’re free on Sunday 15th September, come down to Kraków for the cutest march in history.
Sources: Radio Krakow, Daily Mail, Love Krakow, TheNews.pl.
Written by Elcin Marasli, September 2015; updated by AZ, September 2019.