Traditional szyszki weselne are a specific kind of handmade saltdough sculpturette that were made for oldskool Polish country weddings, especially in the Podkarpackie region. They’re still around, but in the wake of the Western glamour of plastic and sparkles, their presence has lessened. They are typically cookie or fairy cake-sized ornaments that guests would take home as memorabilia, pieces of inedible varnished baking with floral and nested bird motifs. Grass, acorns, mushrooms, berries, wreaths and ribbons and roses are all common features of these cookies, signifying love and plenty for the newlyweds. “Plenty” is also signified by figures of storks, wee birdies in cosy nests, and fruits and nuts. We can’t overlook the sexual connotations of the fruits and nut: the Polish word for that vastly scatterable nut of the oak tree (the acorn) is also used in anatomical discourse to reference the acorn-like tip of the male reproductive tool.
My own inedible baked goods are not really directed at wedding celebrations, but the notion of carrying on that tradition – whether with old or new designs – is one that I am open to pursuing. One day somebody’s wedding will be bombarded by neon cookies. And for those who care not for veils and rented tuxedos, there will be stuff for daily life: masks, jewellery, little oddly-shaped boxes, impractical decorative items.
Other stuff? Salty versions of Mexican Day of the Dead sugar skulls and skeletons. Sugar figurines, while not part of Poland’s observance of All Soul’s Day, do appear in there during Easter in the form of little lams and chicks, all tucked into ribboned baskets of eggs and bread and sausage that get covered in doilies and unveiled for blessing at the alter on Easter Sunday. I never ate any of the sugar animals in my baskets – they’re horrible. I used the same ones year after year until their features started to gradually rub away. And now? If there are salty skulls then there shall also be salty lambs and chicks. Dead ones. In glow-in-the-dark paint and glitter.
(( neon cookies are temporarily unavailable, but cookies and images will be coming soon!!! watch this space. ))