Archive for 'traditions'

Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych!

Posted on 19. Apr, 2014 by in Calendar, Holidays, traditions

Easter (Wielkanoc) is traditionally is the most important Christian holiday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Polish Easter’s original folk and religious character and it not changed much during the centuries, but due to the rich variety of many regional traditions in Poland, some published information might be little different.

Easter observances in Poland actually begin on Ash Wednesday, when pussywillows called in polish “bazie” or “kotki” are cut and placed in the water. These pussywillow twigs are used later on Palm Sunday (“Palmowa Niedziela”) as “palms” to be blessed in the church. Holy Week (Wielki Tydzień) begins on Palm Sunday, which is a commemoration of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

  • Ash Wednesday / Środa Popielcowa

    The Polish Easter celebrations, beginning with Ash Wednesday. Most of the Poles try to go to the church for the mass, where priests mark their heads with a cross of ashes while saying: “Remember, man thou art dust and to dust thou shall return”. (Z prochu powstałeś i w proch sie obrócisz)

  • Lent / Wielki Post

    For Polish Catholics, Lent is the most reflective spiritual season. During this time people are fasting, going to the confession, praying and visiting the specially decorated churches to see “Our Lord’s Grave”. Each parish strives to come up with the most artistically and religiously evocate arrangement in which the Blessed Sacrament, draped in a filmy veil, is prominently displayed. During the Lent most of the people do not eat meat on Fridays.

  • Palm Sunday / Niedziela Palmowa

    On this day people bring the pusssywillow branches or other custom made wild flowers bouquets instead of palms to the church for the blessing. Some older folks say that swallowing one of the buds from the pussywillows branch will ensure health all year. Parishioners processed with the palms through the streets around the parish, celebrating the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.


  • Holly Saturday, Food Blesing/ŚwięconkaDLOBI

    On Saturday people take to churches decorated baskets (Swieconka) containing a sampling of traditional food to be blessed. Swieconka is very popular Polish tradition (see below). Also this day typically Polish ceremonies are performed in the church yard. It is the blessing of the fire, the reverence which goes back to pagan times.

    Food Blessing / Święconka

    Święconka is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions. On Saturday people take to churches decorated baskets containing a sampling of traditional food to be blessed: hard-boiled eggs, ham, sausage, salt, pepper, horseradish, fruits, bread and cake. Prominently displayed among these is the Easter lamb, usually molded from butter and colorful pisanki.

    Common foods brought for blessing include: eggs, bread, butter, salt,pepper, horseradish, ham, and sausage.

    The food blessed in the church remains untouched until Sunday morning.

    Eggs / Pisanki, Kraszanki, Malowanki, Drapanki, Wyklejanki, Nalepianki

    The custom of coloring eggs for Easter is still observed in Polish custom. The eggs are decorated with many traditional Polish symbols of Easter. Most popular are lamb, cross, floral designs or Easter’s greetings such as Wesołego Alleluja. The eggs decorated with the use of treated wax are called “pisanki”. Another technique involved gluing colored paper or shiny fabric on them. The eggs which are painted in one color are called “malowanki” or “kraszanki”. If patterns are etched with a pointed instrument on top of the paint, the eggs are then called “skrobanki” or “rysowanki”.

  • Easter Sunday / Wielka Niedziela20854184

    On Easter morning, a special Resurrection Mass is celebrated in every church in Poland. At this Mass, a procession of priests, altar boys and the people circles the church three times while the church bells peal and the organ is played for the first time since they had been silenced on Good Friday. Following the Mass, people return home to eat the food blessed the day before.

    The Easter table will be covered with a white tablecloth. On the middle of the table in most homes housewife will put colored eggs, cold meats, coils of sausages, ham, yeast cakes, pound cakes, poppy-seed cakes, and a lamb made of sugar. Polish Easter Soup called Żurek or White Barszcz is often served at the Easter meal, garnished with the hard-boiled eggs and sausage. There is also tradition to share blassed eggs with the members of the family and wish each other good health, happiness for the rest of the year.

  • Wet Monday / Lany Poniedzialek

    Monday (just after aster) is a holiday in Poland and is called in polish “Lany Poniedzialek” or “Śmingus- Dyngus”. This is a wonderful day of fun. 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.

Happy Easter! Have a wonderful Day! Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Writing a letter to Santa – List do Świętego Mikołaja!

Posted on 13. Dec, 2013 by in Holidays, Kids, traditions, Uncategorized

Whether known as Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Babbo Natale, Christkind, Père Noël, Santa Claus (“Santa”), Święty Mikołaj or by many other names, this legendary gift-giver in European folklore and hagiography is well known around the world.

list do mWriting a letter to Santa (List do Świętego Mikołaja) is among the numerous traditions surrounding Christmas. Although in 1889, Thomas Nast—the caricaturist credited with the modern portrayal of Santa—presented Santa reading letters from the parents of children in “Santa Claus’s mail,” writing to Santa is as much of a children’s ritual as sitting on his lap. The form of “Dear Santa letters” typically include: a testament of “nice” not “naughty” behavior, a wish-list of toys, courteous mention of Mrs. Claus and the elves, and concern for the reindeer (especially Rudolph).

Children in Poland, Japan, and Great Britain are allegedly the most prolific writers of letters to Santa. While sample letters are on Internet sites that also sell Santa stationery, far more common is the hand-written letter illustrated with Santas, reindeers, sleds, Christmas trees, presents, etc. Japanese children sometimes include pieces of origami with their letters. Addressed to Santa in the North Pole, Lapland, the Arctic Circle, the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, and elsewhere in the world, children’s letters are often answered by postal workers and charity volunteers. While children in Canada use a special postal code (H0H 0H0) those in Mexico and other Latin American countries send their letters attached to helium balloons. Since the turn of the 20th century children have also sent their Santa letters to newspapers where they have been reprinted in articles.

In Britain, there was a tradition that children use to burn their Christmas letters in the fire so that they can float up the chimney with the smoke and wind can then magically transport them to the North Pole, to Santa.

What is on your list to Santa this year?

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Some important things to remember about Polish Christmas…

Posted on 03. Dec, 2013 by in Holidays, traditions

wigliatablesetHow to Keep Polish Christmas Traditions in your home?

Carrying on traditions from the “old country” is alive and well. Although we may not be able to create a given tradition as they did in the “old country”, just as their names were Americanized, so are the traditions. For the most part, in many countries, the traditions are centered around what you eat, who you are with and in which activity you are engaged. To keep Polish traditions alive during Christmas, try to remember about these 5 things (of course there is more to it, but these are simple…):

1. Eat no meat and drink no alcohol on Christmas Eve (known as Wigilia). This is the most important day of the holiday, as people await the arrival of Jesus.

2. Prepare your table with a white tablecloth and under the tablecloth have a few sprigs of hay. If you are very daring you can try pulling out a stem of hay. If the stem is green, there will be an early marriage; a short stem is an early death; a yellow one means no marriage and a withered one means a long wait. People usually leave one place at the table free, whether for someone who arrives unexpectedly or for a remembrance for those who have already passed. Be sure there are candles on the table.

3. When the first star appears in the sky, start a very splendid supper. This should be a preplanned 12 entree meal (The number twelve is in honor of Jesus’ twelve apostles.); what actually is eaten varies in the different regions of Poland, however, dishes should be vegetarian (fish and other water dwelling creatures were not considered meat). Usually this includes a clear barszcz (borsch) with uszka or a zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup); karp smażony (fried carp); sledź (different herring dishes); kapusta z grzybami – bigos without meat (cabbage with mushrooms); pierogi z kapustą i grzybami (pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms); groch z kapustą (cabbage with beans); kluski z makiem (pasta with poppy seeds) and ciasta (different cakes). The choice of drink is kompot(dried fruit). As much as this may not sound too appetizing, it has some kind of magic…Of course  I remember hiding coke under the table as a child….

4. Start the meal with a prayer and some reading from the Bible. An opłatek (a wafter that symbolises bread) should be shared along with a Christmas greeting.

5. Blow out the candles at the end of the meal. If the smoke from the candles drifted towards the piec (stove, most likely meaning the source of heat), then there would be a marriage; If the smoke goes towards the window, the harvest would be good; but if the smoke goes towards the door, there would be a death in the family.

There are so many other Polish traditions…I will write more about them soon.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)