As the month of Christmas festivities is just around the corner, we wanted to tell you a little bit about joyful celebrations,that only the Poles are familiar with!
1) Andrzejki – St Andrew’s Night – the night from November 29 to 30
Universal partying on the night of St Andrew’s Day has folk origin; on this day people (mainly children and teens) are making prophecy by pouring candle wax by key hole to water and guessing what the wax shape means. Andrzejki, or St. Andrew’s Day, is a traditional holiday and is an evening of superstition and fortune telling. On this night, young women can predict who they’ll meet and fall in love with!
2) Mikołaj- St Nicholas Day – December 6
This has been always the date when children in Poland expected Santa Clause bringing gifts (unlike Americans – we believe that the one who brings Christmas gifts is an Angel!). The gifts are put under sleeping children’s pillows to be discovered by them in the morning of 6th December. It is believed that Mikołaj only brings gifts for well-behaved children. The naughty ones get switches to remind them that they must do better next year! ( FYI – older generations of Poles always try to remind the kids that Mikołaj was in fact a bishop of Mira, born in privileged family, who decided to commit his life to helping the poor).
3) Śmigus dyngus/Lany Poniedziałek – Wet Monday – the first Monday just after Easter
Monday (just after Easter) is a holiday in Poland and is called in polish ” Lany Poniedziałek” or “Śmigus dyngus“.This is a wonderful day of fun, however some take too much advantage of it!
The ancient Polish tradition on Easter Monday is celebrated by everyone with enthusiasm by sprinkling each other with water. Especially kids have fun this day. Some people say that by being splashed with water on Easter Monday will bring you good luck throughout the year.
Beware though – you might end up being splashed with 9 (or more) buckets of water especially if you are dressed up and on your way to a fancy restaurant downtown ( as happened to me more than once…)!
4) Konstytucja 3 Maja – Third May Constitution Day – May 3
Even though May 3 is celebrated throughout Poland as the day that marks the signing of the Polish Constitution in 1791, this is not the exact day that Poland received their independence. The constitution of 1791 only lasted one short year prior to an invasion that divided Poland among Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Finally, in November of 1918, Poland received its independence. This day however, is still an important date that offers visitors a glimpse into the culture and pride of the Polish people with an array of Polish festivals and parades in the larger cities throughout Poland
5) Wianki – Noc Świętojańska – the night from June 23 to 24
A Midsummer’s Night Eve. Maidens construct wianki (intricate wreathes) decorated with herbs and flowers. At dusk they launch them, candle lit, into the river hoping the boy who finds her wianki will ask for her hand. Bonfires smoke the crop fields for good luck in growing and harvest. Boys show off jumping over the flames. Fertility rites abound and the barren fern blooms this night for only a moment. Summer solstice. If you happened to visit major Polish cities like Kraków or Warszawa, you will be lucky to see impressive firework displays and laser shows as well as live concerts by the river banks!
6) Dzień Niepodległości – Independence Day – National Independence Day – November 11
Poland signed its historic constitution in 1791 but its independence was to be short-lived as invading forces partitioned the country between Russia, Prussia and Austria the following year. It was not until 11 November 1918 that Poland was to regain its independence. To this day, 11 November is an important civic holiday that is recognized throughout the country and is marked with patriotic parades and festivities in many of the larger towns and cities.
Below a picture of Józef Klemens Piłsudski- a Polish statesman and the person most responsible for the creation of the Second Republic of Poland in 1918 – 123 years after it had been taken over by Russia, Austria and Prussia.
Which Polish festival would you like to celebrate the most?!