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Andrzejki – Polish Culture

Where did the name come from?

In Poland, as soon as there is an occasion to celebrate, Poles celebrate. There were many such moments in Slavic times. One holiday that has survived to this day is Andrzejki, in honor of St Andrew. This day is celebrated by Poles on 29 November, just before winter and Advent. Why did they choose this day? Because it was once believed that in the winter, the big dead descend to earth to haunt us. This story is well described in one of Adam Mickiewicz’s literary books, Dziady.

Today, the celebration of St Andrew’s Day has taken on a more contemporary form of celebration, regardless of gender and mostly for the young. School children, boys and girls alike, all kinds of fortune telling – traditional as well as types known through popular culture – can be part of the fun. While older children have the opportunity for one last boisterous party before Advent.

Fortune Telling

Wax Pouring
The most traditional rituals of St Andrew’s Day are fortune-telling. Young people fortune-tell all sorts of things. The most popular form is wax divination. We must have a large key with a dishtowel through which we pour hot wax into cold water. Here, only the imagination sets the boundaries, and all kinds of predictions for the future can be made.

The Longest Peel
The game involves peeling an apple so that the peel is as long as possible. The girl or boy who wins the competition will have the most successful and longest relationship. Then throw the peel behind you and the shape it takes on the floor will tell you who your chosen one will be.

Name Cards
This is a very simple and popular divination. It involves preparing cards with the names of young, unmarried people from the village (or if it is a school game, children from the class or school). The cards are then divided into two groups, boys and girls.

The participants choose a card with the names of the opposite sex and make a hole in it. The person whose name is on the pierced card could be the one.

Interesting Facts

  • In the past, only the girls celebrated St Andrew’s Day, while the boys had their holiday a week earlier – St Catherine’s Day.
  • There used to be a popular saying – “Saint Andrew will show you what fate will bring you as a gift …”. (Pol. „Święty Andrzej Ci ukaże, co Ci los przyniesie w darze).
  • There were also dangers associated with divination. It was believed that a devil or demon could be summoned during magical ceremonies. Older women used to frighten young maidens on Andrews night with tales of ghosts and devils, summoned by strong girly desires.

As you can see, there are many ways to learn Polish through culture. Learning does not have to be boring or monotonous at all. It can be varied. However, everyone needs their own way. You can try them and see if they help you. You can also join a language course at the Polka Dot School, where you can also deepen your knowledge of politics, everyday topics and events in Poland.
Or if you are interested in learning Polish in an interesting way, we invite you to visit our Instagram.

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