Sylwester i Nowy Rok Posted by on Dec 28, 2010 in Culture

New Year’s Eve is the Day before the New Year, and the night in particular is marked by parties all around to celebrate and greet New Year, which may last till morning. Their origin is explained by a legend.

According to Sybil’s prophecy, the end of the world was to take place in 1000, brought forth by the dragon Leviathan. Imprisoned by Pope Sylwester I in the dungeons of Vatican, the beast was supposed to sleep till the end of that millennium. But he was supposed to wake up at midnight beginning the year 1000, break off its chains and burn the earth and the sky with its fiery breath. When the year 999 was about to end and the next pope adopted the name of Sylwester II, a great horror set in Rome and the whole Christian Europe. People made repentance waiting for a death in flames. When midnight hour struck Leviathan did not appear on Ponte Saint Angelo. Vatican and Rome were still safe and people’s despair turned into a great joy. They danced on the streets, laughed and drank wines around bonfires. Pope Sylwester II, as later did all his successors, issued his blessing Urbi et orbi to the city and to the world for the New Year, New Century and New Millennium. This is why the last day of each year with its revelries, balls and parades in Poland is called Sylwester.

New Year’s Eve in Poland is a colorful affair with parties. Polish people are universally known for their fun loving and easy going nature. They love socializing. So they love to spend New Year’s Eve in open air atmosphere.

The Market Square at Wroclaw stages a spectacular New Year celebration. The most vibrant city of Poland gets livened up with DJ music, splendid display of lights and fireworks. The town people as well as Poland visitors gather in large numbers at Market Square. The same is the situation in Krakow where rock concerts by famous Polish artists dominate the New Year festive mood. Fireworks light up the sky at the stroke of the midnight. St. Mary’s Cathedral’s bells ring in the New Year.

New Year’s Eve in Krakow is in the midst of snow and biting December cold. But you can welcome New Year in a more warm and indoor environment. New Year’s Eve in Poland can be enjoyed in a restaurant and bar of your choice. Such a setup is preferred by couples who celebrate New Year with a special midnight kiss. New Year’s Eve celebration in Poland is never complete without a sip of favorite cocktail or a glass of champagne.

The Polish have the unique tradition to name each day in the calendar year according to saint names (Imieniny). These days are dedicated to the devotion of these saints. The last day of the year is named after saint Sylvester, the Roman bishop who died in 335. On Sylwester Eve indoor parties and outdoor celebrations are of equal significance and enjoyment. It all depends on your desire and liking.

One popular activity of the students of Poland is to spend New Years’ Eve in mountains or in shed of the shepherds. Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Market Square is a recent addition to the formal tradition of indoor parties and balls. Outdoor carnival is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of New Year in Poland. The carnival spirit does not end with the beginning of a new year; it continues till Ash Wednesday.

On New Year’s Day it is a custom to pass wishes to one another. After midnight everyone calls family and friends to wish them a Happy New Year.

I hope you all are going to spend that night in a wonderful atmosphere, either relaxing at home with your loved ones or at a big party. Have fun, be safe and Wszystkiego Najlepszego w Nowym 2011 Roku!

Do następnego razu! (Till next time…)


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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near 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. Łowiczanka:

    Thank you for the information about Sylwester !!!