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    Why has miner’s uniform got 29 buttons? The ‘Barbórka’ trivia

    This year’s ‘Barbórka’ is different than the previous ones because of COVID-19 pandemic. 4th of December is a traditional miners’ celebration day. This is a day of Saint Barbara. Nobody forgets about the miner’s effort, so let’s find out some trivia about miner’s uniform.

    4th of December is a traditional miner’s celebration day in Poland, which is called ‘Barbórka’. The name of this day comes from Saint Barbara on her feast day. Saint Barbara is the patron saint of a good death and hard work. In miners’ tradition ‘Barbórka’ starts with a solemn mass in church or ‘cechownia’ (a part of the mine where miners gather and carry out their duties before slide or right after coming back on the surface) by the figure of Saint Barbara. Then, the mining orchestra marches playing its anthem. Every mine has its orchestra and own anthems. 


    The pattern of today’s miner’s uniform was introduced in the XVIII century on German’s territory in the Ruhr. In Poland, the first uniforms were provided in 1817 and were worn as workwear. 

    Clothes of Kingdom of Poland infantry were a pattern of Polish miner’s uniforms. Nowadays, miner’s uniforms differ from those from the XIX century. Tuxedo was changed for coat and white trousers were changed for black ones. 




    Shako is a miner’s hat and it is an element of ceremonial miner’s uniforms. Shako is 12.5 cm high and it is stiff. In the middle of the forefront of the shako, there is ‘kupla’ (miner’s emblem). In ‘kupla’ you can see a hammer (called ‘perlik’) and short pick (called ‘żelazko’). Both elements are surrounded by the laurel wreath. These tools were used by miners to break coal and ores. 


    Why has the miner’s uniform got 29 bottoms?


    The uniform is a pride of every miner. It symbolizes the belonging to the mining community and appreciation for hard and deadly work. We can find there special patches, flaps and 29 gold buttons. Why 29? This is the number which commemorates the patron of miners – Saint Barbara, who died as a martyr at the age of 29. 


    What do panaches’ colours on shakoes mean? 


    On the left side of the shako, there is a panache made from roaster’s feathers of 22 cm in length. The colour of roaster’s feathers matters a lot because it signifies the miner’s importance. 


    • Green – the colour intended for Director’Generals of mining.
    • White – the colour intended for technicians, engineers and coal miner’s directors. 
    • Black – the colour intended for miners and aspirants. 
    • Red – the colour for members of mining orchestra.
    • Whitered – the colour intended for kapellmeister of mining orchestra. 


    Why black and green?


    Not only does black and green dominate in miner’s uniforms but also they create the miner’s flag. Black symbolizes the darkness of the underworld and green the longing for green forests and fields during work. 


    Formerly, miners slid down to the mines in grey uniforms, now the black ceremonial uniform is worn during important celebrations for the mining community. 


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