The painting by Polish painter and illustrator Piotr Stachewicz(1858-1938) depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary sowing crops. It celebrates an old Polish folk tradtion that falls on September 8th.
In the official Catholic church calendar, September 8 is celebrated as the birth of Blessed Virgin Mary but among the agrarian people of Poland, the Blessed Virgin was also the patron saint of winter crops so it was also came to be known as Matka Boska Siewna, Our Lady of Sowing. It signaled that it was time to plant their winter crops.
On this day, the farmers brought their seeds of wheat, rye and barley to church to be blessed with holy water. Added to the seeds were pieces of the grain that had been part of the bouquets blessed on Our Lady of the Herbs (August 15), or the herbs blessed during the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi, or perhaps the crushed catkins of pussy willows that were blessed on Palm Sunday. All those bouquets and flowers were felt to have special powers because they, too, had been blessed and the strength of those blessings were thought to insure a successful crop.
The first handful of seeds thrown to the ground were made in the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross was also made into the air over the fields in the hope that the blessing would protect the crops against the devastation of hail, or a dry or an overly wet season.
The proverbs of Poland often served as a kind of Farmer's Almanac foretelling long-range weather predictions, offering gardening tips, instructions on the migratory pattern of birds and even direction for living and working. There are plenty for September but these are just a few that pertain to this particular day:
Na Siewną zacznij siać żyto, będziesz miał chleb na siebie i na parobka myto!
On the feast of Our Lay of Sowing, begin sowing your rye, you'll have bread for yourself and pay for your help(field help).
Kiedy Panna się rodzi, już jaskółka odchodzi.
When Our Lady is born, the swallows leave.
W Narodzenie Panny jaka pogoda, osiem tygodni takich nam poda
The weather on the Birth of Our Lady, will give us eight weeks of the same.
One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.