Traditional Leather Jump

Traditional Leather Jump at the cloister of AGH UST main building, photo by Witold Woszczyna, KSAF AGH UST

On 7 December the Grand Hall of the main AGH UST building will host the traditional leather jump event.

The highlight of the Saint Barbara Day celebrations will be the official session of AGH UST Senate held on 7th December. The Leather Jump has been scheduled for about 14.30 (after concluding the session).

This beautiful custom was described in a book written by Prof. Artur Bęben ‘ A Miner’s Lamp is Burning’:

LEATHER JUMP – traditional mining ceremony – a form of initiation rite, during which novices in the art of mining were accepted to the mining community. A miner who was granted the right to wear leather could not be subjected to any form of corporal punishment, and it was generally regarded as unacceptable to hit a miner on his ‘leather’, even if done for fun. Getting the mining leather was a considerable honour. Miners would joke about the idea that if anyone who ‘took the leather’ as a child wore it later on, the world would be full of miners. Another saying has it that miners use leather for cover so that others do not need to turn their eyes away in embarrassment.

MINER’S APRON – short leather apron (normally triangular), historically attached to the miner’s belt down in order to protect their clothing and body as they sat or knelt when working at a low mine face or during rest in a wet area. The leather butt flap was also a must-have in inclined shafts and adits, which miners accessed using slippery planks. When making blast holes, leather would be used for collecting drill cuttings. It was also part of the official miner’s dress.

The leather jump scenario

The leather jump follows a scenario developed by Polish students in Leoben, which was later remodelled in the mid-war period by the Mining Academy Students’ Association and then, since 1948, according to the concept proposed by Bogdan Smyła, further improved by Professor Witold Żabicki, who, for many years, acted as the Master of Ceremony.

The act of solemn acceptance of foxes to the mining guild combines the historical traditions, including traditions connected with miners belonging to guild (Polish: gwarki) and mining students. Through the leather jump a novice became a ‘leather man’, a member of the community of miners. The act of official university banner and fire being symbolically handed down to junior students was added to this solemn ceremony only later as a beautiful and educational ritual.

We are pleased to invite all students, members of the academic staff as well as residents of Cracow to join us at the cloister of AGH UST main building.