If you’re a single young lady in Poland on the night of November 29th, you have a unique, perhaps harrowing, opportunity before you; or a great excuse to flee the country:) The Eve of St. Andrew’s Day (Andrzejki) has been associated with fortune-telling in Poland for centuries. The first written mention of the tradition goes all the way back to 1557, and while the seriousness of the proceedings has certainly lightened, the basic elements of this ancient custom remain unchanged from the Middle Ages. As St. Andrew’s Day marks the beginning of Advent, in those bygone days it was believed that the spirits of the ancestors were at their most accessible when they descended back to earth during this time. With conditions thus in place for a bit of crystal ball gazing, and with the long, cold and lonely Polish winter ahead, coupling was naturally the one thing on every girl’s mind. Would she be married in the coming year? And what, pray tell, would her prince look like? Following the protocols of the day, a widow, unmarried spinster, or divorcee was then required to light the thirteen candles that would call forth the spirits into the room…
Image by CDCobra on Flickr.com
The most common Andrzejki tradition carried on today uses hot wax as a conduit into the spirit world. The wax must be melted and then poured through the eye of a skeleton key into a bowl of cool water. Once cooled, the resultant form is then held in front of a light and the shadow cast reveals the appearance of your future partner, or something about their character. While for today’s youth this glimpse into the future might only be as far-sighted as a few hours, centuries ago it was studied very closely.
Today Andrzejki is a fun, carefree celebration of being young and single more than anything. And that means drinking and dancing. Always a big night out for students—perhaps determined to forget whatever grotesque revelation they’ve just received or change their fate.
Here are few rhymes about this fun day:
W dniu Św. Andrzeja,
Sprawdź jaka w miłości nadzieja…
Czy ten o którym marzysz skrycie,
To ten jedyny na całe życie?
On St. Andrew’s Day,
See what kind of hope in love …
Is this guy you desire secretly,
It’s the only one in a lifetime?
Zebrała się nasza gromada,
Gdy już wieczór zapada.
Chętna do zabawy w andrzejkową noc,
Bo dziś wróżb i magii moc.
Która pierwsza za mąż wyjdzie?
I do której szczęście przyjdzie?
Która dziś odpowiedź na pytanie znajdzie?
A która swą miłość odnajdzie?
Odpowiedzi na pytania i marzenia znamy,
Ale na wyniki jeszcze poczekamy.
We all got together,
Once evening falls.
Willing to play at St Andrew’s night,
Because today divination and magic power.
Which one will get married first?
And which one will get happiness?
Which today finds the answer to the question?
And which one will find the true love?
Answers to these questions and dreams we know,
But still we wait for the results.
W listopadową, ciemną noc,
Swój los wywróżę sobie,
A św. Andrzeja poproszę o moc,
By powiedziały mi o Tobie.
In the November, dark night,
My fate I will predict,
And St. Andrew ask for power,
To tell me about you.
Prosimy dziś Ciebie,
Pozwól nam zobaczyć
Co pisane nam w niebie.
We ask you today,
Let us see
What’s written to us in heaven.
Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)