Public holidays and dates to remember in Poland in the wintertime (December 2019, January & February 2020)

Public holidays in Poland

Shopping Sundays in Poland in December 2019, January & February 2020

December 15, 22, and 29, 2019; January 26, 2020. There is no shopping Sunday in Poland in February. The next shopping Sunday will be on April 5, 2020. Read more about shopping Sundays in Poland in 2019 and 2020.

Public holidays and celebrations in Poland in the wintertime

  • December 6

St. Nicholas’ Day (Mikołajki)
The name Mikołajki comes from Mikołaj (Polish for Nicholas), meaning little Nicholas. Children usually receive little treats – candies or toys. One of the traditions is to hide treats in shoes. Children should clean them the night before and the next morning (on Mikołajki day) they would find inside their shoe a small surprise.

  • December 22

The beginning of astronomical winter
The shortest day of the year.

  • December 24

Christmas Eve (Wigilia)
Christmas Eve is not a bank holiday in Poland. However, most shops and businesses are open no longer than 2-3 pm. Christmas Eve Dinner kolacja wigilijna – is the most important Christmas celebration in Poland. Click here to learn more about Christmas traditions and celebrations in Poland. The Christmas Eve traditions include waiting for a first star, the Christmas wafer (opłatek), 12 meat-free courses, an extra seat for an unexpected guest, hay under the tablecloth, a special midnight mass (pasterka).

  • December 25

Christmas Day (Boże Narodzenie)
A bank holiday in Poland. Stores, malls, shopping centers, public institutions, schools are CLOSED. People in Poland usually visit family and friends to celebrate together, they go to church, sing carols (kolędy), spend long hours at the table. Find out more about Christmas traditions and celebrations in Poland.

  • December 26

Second Day of Christmas (Drugi Dzień Świąt Bożego Narodzenia)
A bank holiday in Poland. Stores, malls, shopping centers, public institutions, schools are CLOSED.

  • December 31

New Year’s Eve / St. Silvestre’s Day (Sylwester
Start of the carnival season in Poland. People usually go out to parties and balls. At midnight or even before, fireworks shows start, arranged by the city authorities but also outside of apartments, in parks, playgrounds, etc. Stores are usually open no longer than 5-6 pm.

  • January 1

New Year’s Day (Nowy Rok)
A bank holiday in Poland – stores, malls, shopping centers are closed, only some smaller local convenience stores can be open (eg. Żabka). You can do basic shopping at gas stations.

  • January 6

Epiphany / The Three Wise Kings (Trzech Króli)   
A bank holiday in Poland, stores are closed. Christian holiday commemorating the three wise kings’ visit to infant Jesus. In Warsaw and other big cities, there are street parades. There is a tradition in Poland to write with chalk brought from the church above the entrance of your home: K+M+B (or C+M+B). The letters have two meanings: they represent the initials of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar (Kacper, Melchior, Baltazar); it’s also the abbreviation of the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat (May Christ bless this house).

  • January 12

Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, 28th Grand Finale (Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy)
The biggest charity event in Poland. 2020 winter fundraiser will be held to raise funds to support pediatric surgery and treatment. Many concerts, shows and other events all over Poland. Volunteers (including many children) collect money on the streets giving away to all donors red stickers in the shape of a heart. Facebook event in Polish, and the Foundation’s website in English.

  • January 21 & January 22

Grandmother’s Day & Grandfather’s Day (Dzień Babci & Dzień Dziadka)
People visit or call their grandparents to honor them. In kindergartens, there are usually events for grandparents.

  • February 14

Valentine’s Day (Walentynki)
It’s a relatively new celebration in Poland (not observed in Poland during communism time before 1989), becoming more and more popular. All restaurants will be full, book your table in advance!;)

  • February 20

Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek)
The last Thursday before the Lent starts (it’s similar to Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday celebrations), in Poland it’s a donut / pączek day. In the morning, you can notice long lines in front of bakeries and cafes all over Poland. People all day long eat pączki (donuts filled with fruit jam) or faworki (French dough pastry served with powdered sugar) at schools, at work, at home. There are contests for the best pastry stores in the city and some families have pączek eating competition – who will eat the most donuts on Fat Thursday.

  • February 25

Last day of the carnival, Śledzik (herring night), Ostatki (last days of carnival, Shrovetide Tuesday)
The last chance to party (typically with drinking and music) before the start of Lent (which doesn’t mean there are no parties during Lent in Poland, just not as many). The party / dinner is called in Polish Śledzik (little herring) – during old-fashioned Polish parties, it was a popular appetizer washed down with alcohol.

  • February 26

Ash Wednesday (Środa Popielcowa, Popielec)
The first day of Lent. People go to churches where priests put ashes (made from palm branches blessed on the previous year Palm Sunday) on people’s foreheads saying ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return’ (‘Z prochu powstałeś i w proch się obrócisz’). It is a tradition among the Roman Catholics in Poland to avoid meat, alcohol, sweets, and snacks on that day.

Winter school break in Poland

The school year in Poland is divided into 2 terms: the winter term (pierwszy semestr) and the summer term (drugi semestr). While the first and last days of school are set the same for all of Poland (the last day of school in Poland in 2020: June 26), the winter break (ferie zimowe) times differ for each Polish province/voivodship. The dates of winter school break in Poland in 2020:

  • January 13-26, 2020

The following voivodships: lubelskie, łódzkie, podkarpackie, pomorskie, śląskie.

  • January 20 – February 2, 2020

The following voivodships: podlaskie, warmińsko-mazurskie.

  • January 27 – February 9, 2020

The following voivodships: kujawsko-pomorskie, lubuskie, małopolskie, świętokrzyskie, wielkopolskie.

  • February 10-23, 2020

The following voivodships: dolnośląskie, mazowieckie, opolskie, zachodniopomorskie.

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