But still, some of the elderly Cracovians remember that benighted town. Everything there was dark and gloomy, the only event to make it slightly more lively was the occasional ceremonious funeral cortège promenading across Cracow’s Main Square. It sounds like a bad joke now, but it’s true. Ladies of Cracow would prepare for such a funeral well in advance. Obviously, there were furs and stoles, women brought black hats to a modiste to have them freshened. For the mademoiselles, it was about the excitement of meeting their beaus in the procession.
So Cracow lived for these events and … the carnival, which drew the ladies and their daughters from the family estates. In the forlorn time of Advent the city was piously subdued. Religiously bigoted women clad in dark clothes and distinguished countesses alike—often in heavy mourning after their late husbands, in which most of them remained for the rest of their lives—rushed past the cobblestones and mud that shone like melted chocolate, all drifting toward Our Lady’s Church. It was the direst of offenses for a young widow to fancy ever marrying again! Such apostates from the communal custom were very much frowned upon by the Cracovian matrons. Not to mention the divorcées, who might just as well have been called “cocottes,” they were not welcome in society. The matrons would be indignant with their sons for their eagerness to take tea with such ladies. It should be noted here that at the time any small party was called a “tea,” even if the gracious hostess served her guests wine or champagne.