Medieval ‘Harry Potter professors’ procession’ to be added to national list of intangible cultural heritage
A Harry Potter-esque ‘Procession of Professors’ which has been kicking off the start of the academic year since the Middle Ages at Kraków's Jagiellonian University is poised to be added to the national list of intangible cultural heritage.
The ancient procession has been winding its way through Poland's cultural capital on 1st October since the 14th century and is one of the cherished highlights of the tourist hotspot's calendar.
Now, university bosses are ready to submit the paperwork to the culture ministry so that the established tradition will stand alongside Kraków’s beloved nativity scenes and the Lajkonik parade on the prestigious UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.
Joanna Slaga, deputy director of the Collegium Maius University Museum said: "The Jagiellonian University is, after all, the oldest institution of its kind in Poland, so it is important for us not only to preserve its material heritage, various kinds of objects or documents, but also intangible experiences and traditions.
“Through the listing, we have a chance to safeguard a certain tradition that is important to us on the one hand, and on the other to strengthen and further build awareness of it."
Every year, at the start of the new academic year, the procession of Jagiellonian professors from the university's 16 faculties sets off from Collegium Maius, the oldest university building.
It is headed by the youngest faculty, followed by other faculties, and ends with the oldest medicine and law faculties.
The procession is the only occasion in the year when the public can see all the university's professors together donned in their traditional professorial robes.
The procession of scholars moves along Św. Anny street and Planty, stopping at the Collegium Novum to lay wreaths at the Oak of Liberty and commemorative plaques, including those dedicated to Polish academic staff who met their fate at the hands of the Germans in World War Two.
The professors then navigate the ancient streets of Krakow to the Auditorium Maximum, where the ceremonial inauguration of the new academic year takes place.
The procession reaches a crescendo when it arrives at the waiting university rector, under whose gaze the oldest rector's scepters in Europe are borne aloft.
Crowning the majestic procession, the rector utters the traditional formula: "Quod felix, faustum, fortunatumque sit" (May it turn out well, fortunate and successful), which ushers in the new academic year.
The Jagiellonian University is the oldest university in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe being founded in 1364.
In 2014, Poland made the first entries on its national list of intangible cultural heritage, aligning with UNESCO's global effort to protect and promote the world's invaluable intangible cultural treasures.
Currently, Poland's list features 83 entries, encompassing a rich tapestry of living traditions, crafts, beliefs, historical memory, music, and language.