Gońba or Kumoterki

Winter holidays in Podhale is the time of the Gazda Parades (‘gazda’ is a word in Podhale dialect which means a landholder in Podhale region) and the races of ‘kumoterki’ (these, in turn, are traditional sledges). These traditional contests attract crowds of visitors every year; among them there are not only tourists fascinated with the event, but also the highlanders from all over Podhale, who come to supports their favourites.

Kumoterki (in Podhale dialect sometimes also called: ‘gońba’) – is a race of a highlander couple, on snow, in a small sledge, driven by ‘kumoter’

(this is a dialect word for a highlander) and a highlander woman (usually a wife of a kumoter, often called ‘kumoszka’ or ‘baba’).

Another asset of the resort, connected with its exceptional location and climate, are the snow conditions. A large amount of snowfall (1300 mm during the year, of which 40% falls from November to March) causes that the snow remain here for about 150 days a year. Therefore, if winter comes at the turn of November and December, it is usually possible to ski in Zieleniec even during Easter holidays.

However, Zieleniec is not only a ski resort, but also a perfect place to relax all year round, especially for families with younger children, as well as being a great place for setting off to explore other interesting places in the Kłodzko Valley. Orlickie and Bystrzyckie mountains are perfect for day trips, which will certainly not be too challenging for the youngest ones.

The sledge is driven by a man, while his wife if holding on tight and balancing her body, she tries to keep the sledge on the track. The couple of competitors, usually a long-term marriage are dressed in traditional mountaineer outfits – it attracts the attention of spectators coming to the mountains from all around Poland to see the event.

A sledge for ‘kumoterki’ should be wooden, just as tradition highlander sledge should be like. The race is run on time. These are most often conducted in the region of Zakopane and it is regarded to be one of the biggest winter attractions of the capital of Podhale. 

In this race, the most important is passion and as a consequence of this passion, the will to preserve tradition, often passed from one generation to the other. The pride of this tradition makes the participants take the trouble to show it to the guests visiting the region. For this passion we should be grateful to all who take part in races. Kumoterki are small, single-horse sledge used in the past to take a baby to be baptised to the church. Perhaps the name of it might have originated from a dialect name for godmother and godfather („kumoter” and „kumoszka”). The race is on time, while during it the highlanders may also present their two-horse sleighs which are precisely assessed by the judges of the contest.

source: Travel Love Poland Magazine issuu.com/travel.lovepoland/docs/travel.lovepoland_winter
PHOTOS: Robert Szczachor 
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