Strange Traditions in Poland

Posted by Halima Benslimane | April 11, 2017

While doing your Erasmus program in Poland, you can already know some facts about the country, so you confidently share the interesting things with your family and friends back home. Yet, if you do not know popular polish traditions, which are followed from generation to generation, then perhaps you do not know so much about this country.

Once you spend some time in Poland, you can see how much country’s culture and traditions fascinating are. Even though they are getting more and more modern, Poles do respect and follow their traditions. As you country’s traditions seem normal for you, in the same way Poles consider their traditions acceptable and reasonable. Yet, for foreigners several traditions may seem strange. Here is the list of some traditions, which are of great importance for Poles but may seem “of great weirdness” for foreigners.

Christmas in Poland

There is not doubt that Christmas is one of the most important celebration for Poles and is indeed celebrated by following  specific Christmas traditions respected by the majority. The first tradition that is followed is dated the day before Christmas when it’s forbidden to eat meat and only fish is allowed.

Any kind of fish can be served; yet, the traditional kind for so called “Wigilia” evening  is carp. Usually, people buy live carp and kill the fish themselves before preparing it for the meal.  Yet, for those people who do not want to be involved in this  tough task,  a prepared fish is a great choice as well. Before having a dinner together, the members of the family share “Oplatek” (kind of waffles) and wish good things to each other. So far, these traditions look normal and family-kind. Yet, the two more traditions, which may seem weird, are putting an extra plate for an unexpected visitor and the rule of 12 different dishes on the table. For the dinner there is always an extra plate for an unexpected visitor and this shows how great the polish hospitality is. The tradition also says that there must be no less than 12 different dishes. After that, the family gathers near the Christmas tree and opens the gifts before going to church.


Polish Wedding

If you have a chance to attend a wedding in Poland, you shouldn’t miss it; it’s like nothing you’ve seen before. After the ceremony in church, the big party starts and you should prepare yourself for the crazy games and drinking. When attending the wedding, you will get a chance to feel the Polish hospitality; the groom and bride share a big bread between the guests to welcome them.

Poles do like to be generous but also what they like the most is having fun. Some of the games, which you can play on the polish wedding, involve the bride and the groom; this is like a true moment of pure joy that they share with their friends and family. One of the games, which may seem weird for foreigners is making a bride’s shoe a point of the game. One of the friends is stealing a shoe of the bride and trying to trade it for one or more bottles of vodka. In the end the friends do get vodka and drink it together. These games last very long,  in addition to music and dancing.

1st Day of Spring
Marzanna is the name of Slavic goddess of death, nature, and winter. Therefore, every year Poles are
making a big doll from straw that represents the goddess. Later, people burn it and then drown it in the river to
symbolize the end of winter and the start of the beautiful and full of life spring.

Fat Thursday! Yes!

Tłusty Czwartek( (in polish) is one of the favorite celebrations in Poland. The idea of this holiday is to eat as many doughnuts as possible.  The more doughnuts you eat the better coming year you will have. The questions of this day is not “How are you doing?”, “How is your diploma going on”, or “What are your Friday plans?”.

The main questions is,

“How many doughnuts did you eat today?”

We agree, it is not a weird tradition but a genius one! On this day, you can have a perfect excuse for eating 20 doughnuts a day!

Saint Andre

30 of November is a traditional date perceived a the day when young ladies can predict their future. One of the traditional ways how to do that is to do a small “ritual”. You light a candle and prepare a bowl of water. Therefore, you need to put a key above the bowl and pour the wax from the melting candle through the hole of the key into the water. When the shape of the wax is formed on the surface of the water, you take a lamp and light the shape into a wall. The shadow will let you know about your future and what will happen to you soon.

These traditions are not the only ones, but those which may seem weird to the foreigners coming to Poland. If you know more of those, do not hesitate to share them and comment the section below.

Now, you do have to tell something weird to your family about the country where you are spending your Erasmus semester!

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