Why do two billy goats head-butt each other on the tower of the Poznań Town Hall? Where did the tradition of baking St. Martin's croissants (Rogale Świętomarcińskie) come from? One may also ask, why Poznań is called Poznań. Legends come to help us answer these and other questions Some of them are more reliable, others are best taken with a grain of salt. All unique and inspiring our imagination. Interestingly, legends are very popular all the time, probably for one simple reason – each of them can has a kernel of truth.
The legend of the founding of Poznań
If you have watched Harry Potter, you would surely remember The Tale of the Three Brothers. How is that story related to the founding of Poznań? It turns out that Poznań also has its own tale about three brothers: Lech, Czech and Rus. They are the legendary ancestors of Poles, Czechs and Russians. As young boys, the brothers decided to split up – each of them went on his own way to get to know foreign countries and cultures. They met again after years. Despite the big changes in appearance, they had no problem in recognizing each other. At the same time they shouted: "I recognize, I recognize" (in Polish: “Poznaję, poznaję”). This one short word, "poznaję", has become a symbol of their reunion and an inspiration for the name of the city – Poznań, which the brothers founded in the place of their meeting.
The legend of Poznań Billy Goats
There are many versions of this legend, but the most popular one is set in the days after the great fire of the city, which the Poznań Town Hall had been destroyed in. Obviously, the town hall had been rebuilt and a special clock was ordered for its tower. On the day of the official presentation of the new Poznań acquisition, a feast was planned. A young cook was responsible for preparing the main course. The boy, extremely curious, wanted to see the new clock with his own eyes. He decided to leave the roasted venison haunch on the spot for a while and go see the clock tower. After all, what’s the worst that could happen in a few minutes of his absence? Unfortunately, it turned out that a few minutes was the right time to completely burn the entire haunch. The young cook, as soon as he realized what had happened, panicked. He ran to a nearby meadow and grabbed two goats which were grazing there. He wanted to use them to prepare a new dish, but the frightened animals escaped him. But if it weren’t for his misfortune, the two mechanical billy goats would have never appeared at the Poznań Town Hall. The animals ran up the tower and started head-butting each other. Everyone saw them – the mayor of the city and all gathered guests. The whole situation caused such an excitement that it was decided to commemorate it. How? The effects can be observed at 12.00 p.m. in front of the Poznań Town Hall.
The legend of the king of ravens and the Poznań bugle-call
There has always been a guard on the tower of the Poznań Town Hall, who watched the city and its borders and watched out for possible threats. One day, the guard's son found a wounded raven in the tower. He took care of a bird and helped it recover. There wouldn’t be anything unusual about this story if it weren’t for the fact that the raven could talk. What’s more, it turned out that bird is the king of ravens and in thanks for saving his life king it gave the son of the guard a silver trumpet. He told him to use it when the city was in danger. Years had passed. The guardian's son replaced his father's place and started working on the tower of town hall himself. During one of his watch, he noticed a hostile army approaching the city. In that moment, the memory of the conversation with the king of ravens flashed through his mind. He ran for the trumpet and played on it. The view he saw must have been breathtaking. In response to the sound of the trumpet, a whole army of ravens appeared in the sky, attacking and scaring the enemy. In the memory of this event, the guards began to play the bugle call every day with the same trumpet that was given by the king of ravens. The animal army have never showed up again, but who knows? Maybe someday they will help the city when it is in danger.
The legend of St. Martin's Croissants
There is a very popular story about Saint Martin – it tells us all about him giving the half of his coat to a half-naked beggar he met.
One of Poznań’s bakers, charmed by the story, said that he also wanted to help the underprivileged in some way. He just didn't know how. According to the legend, he prayed for aid to St. Martin. That same night he heard the clatter of horseshoes from outside of his house. When he looked out the window, he saw a knight dressed in rather old-fashioned armor. The knight smiled at the baker and rode off, leaving a horseshoe behind. The baker looked at it for a moment and suddenly had an epiphany. Inspired by the shape of a horseshoe, he started baking croissants filled with dried fruits and poppy seeds, which he then gave out to the poor. He probably didn't expect a true tradition to be born from his little good deed. However, once you’ve tried the St. Martin's Croissants at least once, it becomes clear to you why they have become such a phenomenon.
Of course, there are many more legends from Poznań and Greater Poland. You can read about them on the website: