Tag Archives: Polish traditions

Dozynki / Harvest Festival

dozynski poland

A beautiful set of Dozynki postage stamps and commemorative cover issed by the Polish Post Office in 1966.

The Dozynki (Harvest festival) in Poland has its modern origins in an annual festival put on by landowners at the end of each growing season to reward their farmworkers for all of their efforts in bringing in the harvest. The tradition still continues today, with similar events, organised by local councils rather than wealthy farmers, happening in villages and rural communities all over Poland.

Dozynki

Farm workers and nobles gathered outside a manor house in 19th century Poland for a Dozynki celebration.

Most Dozynki festivals will involve the ritual cutting of the last sheaf of grain and its weaving into a wreath, which is then taken to the church to be blessed. After which the wreathes are displayed at a celebration in which the consumption of large quantities of food and some alcohol together with music and dancing play a large part. Sometimes several communities gather together and competitions are held to judge which of these villages has produced the best wreath. These wreathes range from the huge and complex to simple palm-sized wreathes woven by school children.

Easter in Poland

Easter is for many Poles the most important Christian festival and is celebrated across the country. Churches are at their busiest with the vast majority of Poles attending at least one service. Many also take part in street processions organised by their local church.

POlish Easter card

An antique Polish Easter card. This Easter card mailed from Lwow to Poznan in 1929.

Important Polish Easter traditions include the preparation of a basket for blessing on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. This Easter basket is called a swieconka in Polish. The basket is decorated and filled with decorated hard-boiled eggs (pisanki), bread, cake, salt, pepper and some sausage. In recent years many people also add one or two small chocolate eggs to the basket. This is then taken to the church where it is blessed by the Priest sprinkling it with holy water after the special service.

Easter blessing Poland

A fine image of a Polish priest blessing Easter eggs and food in a house in Poland.

Easter Sunday (Wielkanoc) morning breakfast is also an important part of any Polish Easter celebration. Dishes eaten will include some of the ingredients blessed the previous morning at church. While seated at the table, many families also play a sort of traditional game with the hard-boiled eggs, bashing the eggs together, to see which egg is the strongest. The winner is blessed with good luck.

Easter Poland

A fairly typical contemporary Easter card. This particular card sent from Krakow to Szczecin in 1999.

Related Easter in Poland content on Polish Poland:

The Pisanki tradition of decorating Easter eggs.

Smingus Dyngus (water throwing!).

See also our webpage on Christmas in Poland.

Wesolych Swiat / Happy Christmas

Wesolych Swiat

A 1920s Christmas Greetings Card from Poland. Wesolych Swiat!

We would like to wish a ‘Wesołych Świąt’ to anyone reading this!

Wesołych Świąt translates directly into English as Happy / Merry Holiday. So it is, perhaps, the equivalent of ‘Seasons Greetings’ in English. It is used equally at Easter and Christmas time in Poland.

However, as it is nearly Christmas we are using the phrase to say and wish all a very Happy Christmas!

Related pages on Polish Poland: Christmas in Poland; Polish Christmas Cards.

Andrzejki

On the night of St. Andrew’s Eve, the 29th November, each year fortune-telling takes place at parties all over Poland. Most commonly the fortune telling involves the interpretation of the shapes made when hot wax is poured on water.

Andrzejki

Candles are an important ingredient in the Polish tradition of Andrzejki.

Andrzejki is an especially popular tradition with girls and traditionally the most common question that many would like answered is whether or not they will be married within the year ahead. It’s not a serious occasion but Andrzejki is great fun!

Christmas in Poland

Poland is overwhelmingly a Roman Catholic country and therefore Christmas Eve and closely followed by Christmas Day are very important occasions to most Poles. Traditionally, Christmas Eve (the 24th) is a day of fasting and abstinence with no meat eaten. A special Christmas Eve meat-free meal called Wigilia is eaten after the first star has been seen in the sky, which at this time of the year in Poland is around 6pm. This meal traditionally consists of twelve dishes, one for each of the twelve apostles. Popular dishes include Barszcz (beetroot soup), Uszka (mushroom-filled ravioli), Pierogi (dumplings filled with either cheese and potato or cabbage and mushroom), various salads, and one or two fish dishes (typically carp, roll-mop herrings or salmon). Sweet dishes often include Poppy seed cakes and Gingerbread.

Christmas Poland

A traditional Polish card featuring a decorated Christmas Tree, something which every Polish house will have.

In many Polish households the main meal on Christmas Day (the 25th December) is similar to that of western countries – a large roast dinner of goose or duck and increasingly turkey with all the usual trimmings. There is no restriction on eating meat on Christmas Day and generally speaking a lot of meat is consumed!

Polish christmas

A traditional Polish Christmas card. This one featuring a navity scene and one of the best-known Christmas carols.

Interesting Polish Christmas facts

Christmas is called ‘Boze Narodzenie’ in Polish, which literally translated means ‘God’s Birth’.

Christmas cards are usually give out to family and friends in the week or two before Christmas.

The traditional Christmas Midnight Mass is called ‘pasterka. which might be translated into English as ‘Shepherd’s Mass’.

Happy/Merry Christmas in Polish is ‘Wesolych Swiat’ / ‘Wesołych Świąt’. Listen to MP3 file.

White wafers, blessed beforehand by the Priest, are broken and shared with the guests present at the Christmas Eve meal.

Legend say that in Poland animals are able to speak on Christmas Eve!

Christmas postage stamps

Christmas postage stamps featuring Jesus and the Virgin Mary issued by the Polish Post Office in the early 2000s.

Related content on Polish Poland: Easter in Poland.

Smingus Dyngus

Smingus Dyngus (or just Dyngus) is a traditional ritual celebrated on the first Monday after Easter in Poland. On this day boys wander around with buckets of water and water pistols in order throw or sprinkle water on any girls they can find. Traditionally they would only throw water at girls they were attracted to but in recent years any female will do, no matter how old or unattractive. Men are also sometimes targeted! This water-based Polish custom probably has its roots in pagan traditions where the pouring of water is associated with cleansing and purification.

Smingus Dyngus Poland

The Polish Easter Monday tradition that is Smingus Dyngus detailed on an old picture postcard, c.1911.

This webpage is about the Smingus Dyngus / Wet Monday / Lany Poniedzialek Easter tradition.

Other Easter related content on the Polish Poland website: Easter in Poland.

Pisanka / Pisanki

pisanki

An Easter ‘Pisanki’ card produced by Solidarity in the mid 1980s.

Pisanka / Pisanki is the Polish word used to describe an egg that has been decorated. The tradition is believed to have its roots back in a pre-Christian time but the dyeing and decorating of Easter eggs remains an important Easter tradition in Poland.

Most Polish families will produce some form of pisanki at Easter. The most basic form are produced by simply boiling eggs with onion skins or beetroot. These vegetables acting as a natural dye to colour the hard-boiled eggs. Sometimes this is all a family will do to the eggs. Other families will also scratch designs in to the coloured hard shell of the egg. A small number of perhaps more artistic Polish families will also decorate eggs using a wax and batik process. These eggs are all eaten. Nothing is wasted.

Inedible purely-decorative Polish Easter eggs are also made and can also be purchased from markets and souvenir shops. Very few families will make there own.

Related content on Polish Poland: Easter in Poland.

polish pisanki

A 1990s Polish phone card featuring decorated Pisanki Easter Eggs.