Kraków to fine noise-makers during hejnal

From TVN24 via Polskie Radio we bring you the exclusive (ish) news that from now on the making of any kind of noise in Krakow during the playing of the “hejnał” will leave you open to fines, embarrassment and a general talking-to from the city’s guards.

The hejnał, or Hejnał Mariacki to give it its full name is a short and relatively boring five note tune that is played on a bugle by a guy wearing a funny hat. It is played four times every hour on the hour from the top of the tallest tower of the big church on the market square. If you were in Krakow and didn’t hear it, it’s probably because everyone was making too much noise!

It is a tradition that goes back around 700 years although it is reasonable to assume the buglers have changed over that time. In fact…..

The longest serving trumpeter was Adolf Śmietana who played the Heynal for 36 years, starting in 1926. The Kołton family has played the Heynal for three generations. In October 2004, Jan Kołton retired after 33 years of service at the tower. His father had been a Heynal bugler for 35 years previously, and the tradition is currently continued by his son.

The origins of the tradition are riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma……..sorry, err, came over all Churchillian there. The story you will hear the most is that there was this Tartar invasion – don’t ask me why a delicious raw meat dish would wish to invade Poland – and the bugle boy on duty at the time, spotting the advancing delicacy, sounded a warning call. By way of shutting him up, the Tartar shot him with an arrow in the throat and this explains why the tune stops so suddenly. Personally, I think this is just national jealousy at not having an arrow-based myth like England’s good old King Harold so they made one up. There are more sensible options available in the Wiki article.

Anyway, the point is that a fine, upstanding member of the PO political party and local dignitary in Krakow, Mr. Paweł Bystrowski (pictured below with broken arm and shirt borrowed from someone with a neck), has decided that the tune is not getting the respect it deserves because all the stag party goers in the streets below are too busy singing rugby songs to pay it any attention. He’s therefore called for the city council to impose a rule of a five minute silence every hour on the hour. During this time nobody will be allowed to make a noise, talking, banging drums, whatever and anyone doing so would be liable to pay a fine of 20 PLN (per offence, per hour, per noise??)

Most interesting is the idea that…

….first offenders will receive a warning with a second offence garnering a fine.

I can see this working well, perhaps with a yellow and red card system like in football matches. Special constables can be drafted in wearing black & white striped shirts (God knows, Newcastle United don’t need them any more!) to wander around watching for people making too much noise. Any offenders can be shown a yellow card and then followed around by the constable until they leave the “penalty area”. If they repeat the offence while still in the penalty area then a red card is shown and money needs to change hands.

It is an idea ahead of its time and one that I feel certain the city council will approve when they vote in June.

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13 thoughts on “Kraków to fine noise-makers during hejnal

  1. guest says:

    You should write hey now and not Hejnał :D

    I think there is even an english song called “hey now”.

  2. Scatts says:

    There is indeed, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House:

    There is freedom within, there is freedom without
    Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
    But youll never see the end of the road
    While you’re travelling with me

    Hejnał, hejnał
    Dont dream its over
    Hejnał, hejnał
    When the world comes in
    They come, they come
    To build a wall between us
    We know they wont win

    Now Im towing my car, theres a hole in the roof
    My possessions are causing me suspicion but theres no proof
    In the paper today tales of war and of waste
    But you turn right over to the t.v. page

    Hejnał, hejnał
    Don’t dream its over
    Hejnał, hejnał
    When the world comes in
    They come, they come
    To build a wall between us
    We know they wont win

  3. guest says:

    ha ha

  4. island1 says:

    Arrow-based myths are very important to a country’s image. Look at Switzerland. What would it be without its William Tell myth? A hilly bank account with cuckoo clocks that’s what.

  5. Scatts says:

    Need we mention Robin Hood? I think not.

  6. Bob says:

    Good post – they should have the card system for foolish politicians.

    The twinkie winky posel should have been red carded

    Now Bystrowski should also be given one.

    What a clown

  7. PMK says:

    What about all those street musicians trying to make a buck? They already face enough competition from the hejnal, and now they’re going to be fined for doing it? That doesn’t have free-market ideals!

    This post is the funniest I’ve read in a loooong time.

  8. pinolona says:

    Good point PMK, it looks suspiciously like a state monopoly on street entertainment! Quick somebody call the EU anti-trust bods!

  9. Pawel says:

    pinolona, and PMK

    Hejnał plays once in a while, and tourists come to hear it:) Street musicians would be allowed to make their noise in the meantime(s) :)

    and pinolona, do I sense the British anti-Eu-ism?:)

  10. guest says:

    the street musicians are usually from the Ukraine and Belarus. The EU can’t help them. :)

  11. pinolona says:

    Paweł, long live the EU and all multilingual documentation generated thereby! Here’s to generous translation budgets all round! (can’t say I fit into that particular British stereotype ;)

  12. polish_guy says:

    It’s not Tartar, it’s Tatar. Here is more info:
    (or maybe it’s just me not feeling the irony ;P )

  13. PMK says:

    Krakow can probably get around the EU bodies by saying it’s a ‘cultural’ thing. (Like that stinky, unpasteurized cheese.)

    Well, we’ll at least have those ‘statue’ performers (they don’t speak or make sound) and that guy that just lies there kicking a soccer ball around.

    The Ukrainians have every right to come and hassle pedestrians and make a racket. If you really want to hear bad street performers, go to Kazmierz Dolny; it’s a wasteland of struggling ‘talent.’

    Pinolona, their translation budgets aren’t too big. Have see you seen their English translations?

    And how ’bout them EU elections? And since it’s the day after the June 4th Anniversary, I just want to say: fuck communism. Fuck it up its stupid ass.

    And thank you.

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