At the end of the 19th century, the houses of Galician villagers were much different from those in Denmark. The poorest lived in cottages of no more than 40 sq metres in size. The walls were made of barely hewed logs that formed the framework of the building, plastered with a mixture of clay and chopped straw and painted with whiting indoors and on the outside.
Sometimes the external walls were painted blue with a touch of ultramarine. The roof was covered with hand chipped pine planks or thatched with rye straw. The building consisted of a residential part with a stove, a food storage part next to it and a part for animals, usually a cow or a few sheep. In some houses there was no separate part for animals, so in wintertime cows and sheep were kept in the residential part. Windows in such buildings were very small due to the high cost of glass and the need to prevent heat loss. The building was heated by a huge clay stove, on which the elders and children would sleep. Older children slept in the barn, if the family could afford one. The houses had no chimney, which meant that smoke from the fireplace slowly rose to the ceiling and then to the attic through an opening in the ceiling. One does not need to add that the houses were dark and smelled of manure and smoke. Floors were threshing floors made of clay. Richer peasants lived in larger houses divided into living quarters and a part for livestock.
At the end of the 19th century, a ”culinary revolution” took place in Galicia, with potatoes and cabbage becoming essential foodstuffs, with various groats and peas losing on importance. Those who could afford it ate potatoes three times a day. For breakfast potatoes were served with bacon, on Wednesdays and Saturdays with butter. In wintertime people ate sour rye soup with potatoes. For work in the field people would take lunches composed of bread with butter or bacon. For dinner they ate cabbage with potatoes and milk. Potatoes were sometimes replaced with groats or peas. During field work, people ate an additional meal before dinner, consisting of a large slice of bread with bacon, butter or curd. The final meal of the day included potatoes with sour milk, buttermilk or wodzianka, i.e. water boiled with onions. Meals were eaten with wooden spoons from a single clay bowl placed in the centre of the bench. The whole family would sit around the bench on small wooden stools. They would drink milk or onion soup with pepper from separate bowls. Meat, usually pork, was served very rarely, only during religious holidays. Rabbits were served every second Sunday in more affluent households. For wintertime, the houses were stocked with lamb and pork meat in the form of a fatty addition to meals – the meat was minced together with bacon and cured. The poorer villagers would kill one pig between three or four of them. A villager in Galicia – a wageworker – would usually save all the bread received for lunch and the afternoon snack to take as much of it home as possible. The poor could not afford to bake their own bread. In poor families bread was a treat for children. The basic food for the poor consisted of plain potatoes served three times a day. The poorest, known as “komornicy”, could only afford to butter their potatoes from time to time with fat they bought in a village store. One should add that the poorest never had enough to eat and often endured hunger.
In the middle of the 19th century, the clothing of women in Galicia consisted of the products of Czech textile mills. Women would dress in skirts and cotton shirts made of the cheapest textiles, and cover their heads with scarves. For field work, they would wear aprons made of thick linen canvas. Undergarments were made of raw linen canvas and were also worn as summer clothes. They were later replaced with cotton shirts. Regardless of their affluence, in the summer women would walk barefoot, in the winter they would wear leather shoes. In the poorest families there were not enough shoes for the whole family so people would take turns to leave the house. Sunday’s best clothes of Polish seasonal workers from Galicia, admired by the Maribo locals in the late 19th and early 20th century, consisted of fine linen shirts with white embroidery on the collar, and colourful skirts. A better quality cotton blouse with embroidered collar and cuffs was worn over the shirt. A wool or linen apron with colourful patterns, worn on top of the skirt, topped the attire. A velvet corset, often decorated with colourful embroidery or sequins, was worn over the blouse. The head was covered with a white or colour scarf, the arms with a thick wool scarf and the feet were dressed in black Hungarian-style top boots or clogs with wooden soles and leather upper. Rich women from villages used to wear three strings of real red coral. This very expensive addition was the dream of every woman in the village. This was what the Polish seasonal workers would spend their hard-earned money on after returning home from Denmark. The men would wear underwear of raw canvas, thick woollen pants, sleeved vests, with embroidered woollen homespun coats worn on top. The Museum has one such coat in its collection. Just like the women, the peasants would walk barefoot in the summer and wear boots in the winter, while the poor would wear clogs.