Polish Holidays and Customs
Poles are seen as a nation of fun lovers who enjoy festivities, traditions and centuries-old customs. The most ancient rituals, especially those dating back to pagan times, have long lost their magical character, becoming a colorful vestige of the past and a form of amusement.
Links with tradition are felt the strongest during the greatest religious feasts, such as Christmas, Easter, Corpus Christi processions and All Saints' Day.
Pilgrimages to holy sites are very popular; these include the Monastery of Jasna Góra in Częstochowa for Catholics; the Tomb of Rabbi Elimelech in Lezajsk for Jews, the Grabarka Sanctuary for Orthodox Christians.
The two main national holidays are the anniversary of the restoration of independence in 1918, celebrated on 11 November, and the anniversary of the passing of Poland's first Constitution on 3 May 1791. These are official holidays with ceremonies, marches, concerts and other festivities.
Other holidays, quite different in character, include Women's Day (8 March; today much less popular than under Communism), Mother's Day (26 May), Granny's Day (21 January) and Children's Day (1 June), all less public and celebrated first and foremost at home.
A well-established Polish tradition is the celebration of Andrzejki (St. Andrew's Day) - the last festive day before Advent, with fortune-telling to check what the new year will bring. The best-known method is by pouring hot wax into cold water and "reading" its shapes.