Some of Polish traditions are firmly rooted in Catholicism, a predominant religion in Poland, while others spring from various pagan rites. Nowadays, any pagan elements still present in the culture take the form of fun festivals and shows. Two Catholic celebrations – Christmas and Easter – are the most important religious events in Poland. During the holiday season Poles take the time to pray in churches, get together with families, relax and cook and enjoy festive, traditional meals.
Easter is a major holiday in Poland that lasts for few days. It’s a time when people celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter-related festivities begin on Palm Sunday, when faithful bring colorful palms for a mass, and continue all through the Holly Week to end with Wet Monday, known for a rich tradition of pouring water on each other. This period is marked with religious rites.
Christmas holidays in Poland are celebrated on December 25 and 26. The festivities have both a family and a public setting. Around this time town squares and streets are lit with colorful, festive lamps. Prettily set up Christmas trees spring up around every corner. Every year during the month of December, Christmas fairs are arranged to sell traditional foods, gifts and souvenirs.
Advent, a traditional fasting period, starts a month before Christmas and lasts four Sundays.
Christmas Eve (Wigilia), an evening preceding Christmas Day, is traditionally celebrated with a festive Christmas supper. It’s a very special occasion, when families prepare 12 types of meatless dishes – one for each of the 12 apostles. On this day Christmas tree is also decorated so that Santa Claus can bring Christmas gifts. At midnight a special mass is held in every church, when people pray in celebration of the newly born savior. The second day of Christmas, December 26th, is celebrated visiting family members and participating in masses. After Christmas, the next big holiday is New Year’s Day.
Holidays and days off
On holidays and public holidays all shops are closed. On some holidays restaurants, museums, theatres and cinemas do not operate. The holiday season in Poland is in July and August, when most of the theatres are closed. In season the theatres are closed on Mondays. Regarding shops, only large shopping malls and supermarkets are open on Sundays.
Holidays, during which all stores are closed:
1.01 – New Year
6.01 – Epiphany
March/April – Easter (Sunday and Monday, date varies yearly)
1.05 – Labor Day
3.05 – Constitution Day
15.08 – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Our Lady of Assumption)
1.11 – All Saints
11.11 – National Independence Day
25.12-26.12 – Christmas