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Have you been good or bad? Mikołajki in Poland Posted by on Dec 6, 2018 in Calendar, Countries, Culture, Holidays

A lot of my daughters’ friends are a little jealous that they get a visit from Santa twice!!! Yes! Twice!

Every opportunity is good when it comes to gift giving…and gift receiving!

Mikołajki is a different name for St Nicholas’ Day in Poland. On the night from December 5th to the 6th, Santa visits kids in Poland and leaves small gifts either under their pillows or in their slippers. Different regions celebrate it different ways. I always remember gifts under my pillows and it was really hard to fall asleep knowing that Santa will come at night!

Santa Claus, image courtesy pixabay.com

Why St Nicholas? St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra. He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. There are several legends about St. Nicholas, although we don’t know if any of them are true!

The most famous story about St. Nicholas tells how the custom of hanging up stockings to put presents in. This story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

Because of his kindness Nicholas was made a Saint. Many countries, especially ones in Europe, celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.

In Poland not only kids love this day! Mikołajki are celebrated in workplaces as well!

Of course if you have been bad, you may only find rózga (twig) or kawałek węgla (lump of coal) under your pillow!

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew up in Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.