MEMBERS of the Polish community came together to take part in a traditional custom to welcome spring.

As part of the tradition, children build an effigy of Marzanna, described as a winter witch, and then take her to the river where they set it on fire and then drown it signifying the end of winter.

This is the first year that the custom has been celebrated and more than 50 people met at Café Ludek in Mill Street, Newport to build the effigy from straw and crepe paper.

Organiser Joanna Sikorska-Czyczylo, who lives in Cwmbran, said: “Today we burn the old witch who is holding winter here, so we welcome spring.

“Our kids don’t know the custom so want to show them what it’s like and what it means. It a custom from pre-Christian times, but it is still very much alive.

“Every month we do craft for kids at the cafe. We mostly have Polish children but everyone is welcome and we try to celebrate our traditions.”

The group walked from the café to the Millennium footbridge led by Marzana as music played.

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The straw witch was carried by Piotr Dembek from Duffryn.

He said: “I have been building the Marzanna and it’s a very old tradition in Poland. It’s nice show Welsh people what we do in Poland.

“We will repeat this every year because it’s good an interesting for the children.”

Martyna Piotrowska from Cwmbran volunteered to dress in colourful costume of Lady Spring to signify the new season.

She said: “I have to walk behind everyone and help push the witch into the river. It’s nice to remember our traditions.”

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