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Polish Thanksgiving Posted by on Nov 24, 2012 in Calendar, cooking, Countries, Culture, food, Holidays

Thanksgiving Day, celebrated in the US on the fourth Thursday of November is obviously not a Polish-rooted holiday, but it has been eagerly observed by Poles since way back.The word ‘Thanksgiving’ was probably too much of a mouthful for many Polish peasant immigrants of the day, so to make things easier someone started calling it ‘Chicken Day’ instead.

While we’re on the subject of language, the Polish translation for America’s Thanksgiving, Święto Dziękczynienia, might also be quite a tongue-twister to many Polish and non-Polish Americans!

Thanksgiving is undoubtedly the most beautiful uniquely American holiday in the calendar, a time set aside to thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed. In terms of its sentimental value to Americans of every background it comes close to the way Polish people feel about Wigilia (Christmas Eve). For this is a very family-oriented occasion, a holiday when one simply has to be with one’s nearest of kin. Of course, Thanksgiving has always meant the traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings, but many families with Polonian or other-ethnic roots have given the festive meal a little twist of their own.

Those who are ‘just plain American’ eat only turkey and the traditional go-togethers. We Polish Americans likewise have turkey but also include some of our unique dishes. Some Polish-American families serve bigos, as well as babka, placek, sernik and szarlotka.

Other than serving Polish dishes alongside the traditional American-style roast turkey stuffed with over-saged bread stuffing, another way to add an ethnic accent to your Thanksgiving festivities is by roasting your turkey stuffed with a Polish-style (bread/babka-giblet-raisin, bread-meat-dill, rice & mushroom) dressing and/or include some typically Polish autumn desserts like szarlotka (apple pie). Some Polish-American parishes hold Thanksgiving dinners for those living alone, the poor, elderly and others who might otherwise be deprived of this traditional celebration. That is a beautiful act of charity worth propagating, especially if the younger generation gets involved in the effort. Taking ready-to-eat Thanksgiving dinners to shut-in is another possibility. Any way of expressing gratitude for our abundance and sharing it with those less fortunate is worth considering.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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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.


  1. Franceymargaret:

    Don’t forget the Parogies (we called them Padaha) also Hollopchi (cabbage rolls)

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