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Customs and Religion

Who and When brings Gifts to Polish Children during Christmas Season

Every region has its own tradition. In some regions of Poland the gifts are given to the children only on December 6th - since St. Nicolaus called also Santa Claus is a patron of this day. Read more about St. Nicolaus tradition. But in the majority of houses children (and adults) can expect gifts twice- on December 6th and also on Christmas Eve. As you probably know St. Claus Day originates from orthodox religious tradition but it came to Poland probably from Holland. The atmosphere of this feast is different than the atmosphere of Christmas eve since December 6th is a normal working day. Whereas Christmas is usually celebrated as a family feast, St. Claus Day (December 6th) is rather social - with children and adults participating in Christmas parties at schools and offices.

Read more: Who and When brings Gifts to Polish Children during Christmas Season

 

Nativity Scenes from an Exhibition in Krakow

My first visit to Poland was in early December several years ago. My Ciocia (aunt), with whom we were staying in Krakow, sent us to walk to the old center of town. My sister and I were not quite sure what my Ciocia had in mind for us to see, but we obediently dressed warm and walked to the Rynek (Main Market Square). On this day, all people brought their Szopki (nativity scenes) for display, for competition and for a grand parade around the market place.

winner szopka competition 2010

Winner of Szopka competition 2010 in the category of large szopkas, built by Marek Markowski and his family. Click the picture to see it magnified.

Read more: Nativity Scenes from an Exhibition in Krakow

   

St. Kinga: Patron of Salt Miners

Kinga (Kunegunda) was a daughter of Hungarian King Bela IV and niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. She married King Boleslaus V of Poland at sixteen.

According to the legend, when Polish king sent his envoys to take princess Kinga to Poland to marry a Polish king, her father wanted to show a royal generosity by giving gold and silver from his treasury to the Poles. Kinga asked him to give a salt instead, since Poles did have gold and silver but they did not have much needed salr. The king let Kinga to take as much Hungarian salt as she wanted, but Kinda had a premonition and she just dropped her engagement ring to the mine before going to Poland.

Read more: St. Kinga: Patron of Salt Miners

   

Birthday and Namesday Celebration in Poland

For Poles the namesdays are the days of their patrons, are usually more important than the birthdays. In Polish: "imieniny" meaning "namesday" or "name day", orginate from "imie" = name. Many namesdays are related to old Polish traditions or seasons of the year. for instance - the beginning of the year is related to Mieszko, the end of the year to Sylwester, the shortest day during the year to St. John or the Miner's Day to St.Barbara - miners' patron. Read more about it in the next part of this article. Besides, the celebration of the namesday (name day) does not reveal the age and everybody can easily figure out when is his friend's birthday just by checking the calendar.

Read more: Birthday and Namesday Celebration in Poland

   

Birthdays and Namesdays: Ceremonies and Food

Read the first part of the article: Birthdays and Namesdays celebrations in Poland - with lots of information about selected namesdays and their patrons. Read also about The most Common Baby names in Poland .

Namesdays (imieniny) are more important than the birthdays (urodziny) in Poland. Namesdays are related to the feasts of the saints but since not every popular first name has its saint, therefore Polish calendar had to be modified to include  popular names with no saints related to them. For instance female names: Iwona (Yvonne) or Grazyna became popular during the last 50-100 years but there is no any saint figure or patron to these names.

Read more: Birthdays and Namesdays: Ceremonies and Food

   

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