The most important Polish traditions
Polish people have a lot of traditions! It is because our culture is older than 1,000 years. Also, we have many regional traditions in addition to the common ones. In this article, we’ll show you the most important ones. Also, we’ll offer you a Polish language course in Wroclaw during which you can learn much more about Polish traditions.
Polish traditions – common ones
All Polish people share the same culture and language. This is why you’ll encounter some practices wherever in Poland you are. However, some regions differ from the general population. We’ll discuss them later.
It’s a moveable feast celebrated on the post-Easter Monday. On that day you may be… doused by the children. Why? Nowadays it’s just fun. But a long time ago, during the pagan times, young men would douse young women, believing it would make them fertile. This pagan practice was adopted by Christianity once Poland was baptized. Be careful after Easter!
This is another of the Polish traditions hailing from ancient, pre-Christian times. According to Slavic beliefs, Marzanna was a goddess of winter. Every year she would allow the spring to commence. As a symbol of that, Western Slavs would either drown or burn their effigy. This tradition is still observed, especially by kindergarten children.
Kupala was a deity of unspecified domain. The ancient Slavs worshipped him with a feast on which they would let the flower garland flow across the rivers. Another of the Polish traditions of that day are bonfires and dances near the water.
Polish traditions – regional ones
Polish history is one of being influenced by many neighboring cultures. Poland has been a neighbor of Russia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Czechia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, and other countries. Not to mention it was partitioned and its culture has been suppressed. It has resulted in a unique mix of Polish traditions.
Who brings the Christmas gifts?
One would think that all over the world good children get their presents from Santa Claus. Nothing can be further from the truth! He brings them only to some of the Polish children. Those hailing from Kujavia, Pałuki, Kashubia, and Western Pomerania receive their annual reward for good behavior from Gwiazdor. His name means “a star” in the context of being a very famous man.
A Little Angel (Polish: Aniołek) visits the children of Lesser Poland, Subcarpathia, and Cieszynian Silesia.
People of Upper Silesia believe that Child Christ gifts them. So do Czechs, Slovaks, and Hungarians. It’s worth mentioning that Silesians follow their own culture, which is even considered a separate national identity.
At the Lower and Opolian Silesia Little Star (Polish: Gwiazdka) brings the gifts. But those Silesias are inhabited by the repatriates and their descendants. Thus you can meet all kinds of Christmas believers there.
His name is half Polish, half German. Lai comes from the Old German Language and means “a member of a trade guild”. And konik is Polish for “a little horse”. You can see him in Kraków on the first Thursday after the Corpus Christi. He will ride a wooden horse from Zwierzyniec to Main Square, accompanied by people dressed in pseudo-Tatar attire.
The genesis of this one of Polish traditions is very uncertain. Some historians claim that its purpose is to commemorate Tatar raids, especially the defense of Olomouc in 1241, which happened around the Corpus Christi feast. Others state that the Lajkonik parade is a relict of the Slavic Pagan holiday of Sviatovid.
It is a grand sheepherders’ parade held in the Podlasie region. It is organized around 23rd April when the Catholic Church observes Saint Adalbert Day. Traditionally, on that day sheepherders would march towards their pastures, as the winter has finally ended.
You can see multiple redyks in Podlasie, but the most famous one is held in Ludźmierz village. The ceremony’s curriculum includes:
- Gathering the standard checks,
- Holy Mass,
- Blessing the sheep by the priests,
- A lunch (dishes are also blessed).