Spring 2020 in Poland: 6 bank holidays, time change, observances & celebrations
- March 8
Women’s Day (Dzień Kobiet)
The tradition of Women’s Day is not as popular as during communism time in Poland, but still, women usually get flowers or other gifts.
- March 17
St. Patrick’s Day (Dzień Świętego Patryka)
Poland also celebrates St. Patrick’s Day – people wear green, there are parades, festivals, concerts.
- March 21
Truant’s Day / Skip Day (Dzień Wagarowicza)
The first day of spring. The old Polish folk tradition of the first day of spring is to drown Marzanna (a straw figure of a woman symbolizing winter) in the nearest river (nowadays mostly in rural areas and by children at schools). For children, the first day of spring is a Truant’s Day / Skip Day (Dzień Wagarowicza). Some students skip classes but usually, it’s just a special fun day at school – students dress up in a funny way, schools organize competitions and games, there are no tests on this day.
- March 29
Time change (zmiana czasu)
On Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 02:00 am clocks are turned forward 1 hour to 03:00 am. The last time change in Poland (and in other European Union countries) will happen in 2021. The European Union lawmakers decided to end the twice-a-year (March and October) custom of time changes throughout the European Union, leaving member states the freedom to decide their standard time. The national governments have yet to take a stance – countries that decide to be permanently on summertime would change their clocks for the final time in March 2021, countries that opt to be on wintertime would change their clocks for the final time in October 2021. Click here to learn more about time change in Poland.
- April 1
April Fools’ Day (Prima Aprilis)
A day of pranks and jokes. Don’t trust anyone;) Including Polish media which also participates in the celebrations with lots of fabricated stories.
- April 5
Palm Sunday (Niedziela Palmowa)
It starts the Easter celebrations. There are processions around the church to commemorate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. People bring „palms” (palmy wielkanocne) made of paper flowers, dried flowers, and twigs.
- April 10
Good Friday (Wielki Piątek)
Good Friday commemorates passion and crucifixion of Jesus. In major cities in Poland, there are processions on the streets – people carrying a huge cross and contemplating passion of Jesus. In Poland, for many people, it’s a day of fasting – no meat, no parties, no alcohol.
- April 11
Holy Saturday (Wielka Sobota)
People bring to churches baskets (called in Polish święconka) filled with food to get a special blessing. Baskets usually include eggs as a symbol of rebirth (pisanki – boiled eggs painted in various colors and patterns), bread, salt, sausage, sometimes other food – chocolate, cake, horseradish etc. Food from święconka basket is shared the next morning during festive Easter breakfast.
- April 12
Easter Day (Wielkanoc)
Bank holiday in Poland. Easter Sunday commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. Many people in Poland start the day with 6 am morning mass (Rezurekcja). The key event of a day – a family breakfast that starts with eating Święconka, then żurek soup (also known as white barszcz), bigos, sausage with horseradish, mazurek cake. Public institutions, stores, malls, shopping centers closed, only some smaller local convenience stores can be open and stores at gas stations.
- April 13
Easter Monday (Poniedziałek Wielkanocny), “Wet Monday” (Lany Poniedziałek)
Bank holiday in Poland. Śmigus dyngus – an old tradition in Poland in which people use buckets (kids usually play with water guns) to soak each other with water. It’s safe to stay home on Wet Monday and avoid street water fights;) Another Easter Monday tradition is to beat legs with willow branch or Palms (the ones used for Palm Sunday). Public institutions, stores, malls, shopping centers closed, only some smaller local convenience stores can be open and stores at gas stations.
- May 1
Bank/public holiday in Poland. Stores are closed. Only some smaller local convenience stores can be open. Stores at gas stations are open every day, 24 h. Usually, in Warsaw and other major cities in Poland, there are political marches to promote workers rights, however, this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Poland, all events are prohibited.
- May 2
Working day (Saturday in 2020). Stores are open. It’s a relatively new holiday in Poland (introduced in 2004). You can notice Polish flags in some private windows and balconies as well as displayed in public institutions buildings.
- May 3
Bank/public holiday in Poland. The May 3rd Constitution was passed in 1791 and is claimed to be the first written constitution in Europe and second one in the world (after the American one). Usually, the Constitution Day is celebrated with speeches, military parades, picnics, however, this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Poland, all events are prohibited.
- May 26
It is a day when you visit or call your mum, send her a card, flowers or other gifts. Father’s Day in Poland is celebrated on June 23.
- May 31
Whit Sunday / Pentecost / Zielone Świątki
Bank holiday in Poland (always on Sunday anyway). The Day of Descent of the Holy Spirit – Zielone Świątki (Green Holidays). In Poland, some people decorate their homes with branches with green leaves.
- June 1
Kids receive gifts. Schools and kindergartens host special events for kids – picnics, concerts, games, sports competitions, etc. There are many events for children organized all over Poland by the city authorities, institutions, theaters, restaurants.
- June 11
Corpus Christi / Boże Ciało
Bank holiday in Poland. Stores, malls, shopping centers are closed. Only some smaller local convenience stores can be open and stores at gas stations. The Catholic church organizes in each parish huge outdoor procession (in many places in Poland traffic is stopped during the processions). The procession stops at four altars temporary built on the streets. Girls dressed in white scatter flower petals. The altars are decorated with birch-tree twigs which can be later taken home and are kept the whole year to protect a family.
- June 21
The astronomical first day of summer
Meteorologically speaking, summer begins on June 22. The beginning of astronomical summer is also the longest day of the year. The sun will rise at 4.14 am and the sunset will start at 9 pm.
- June 23
St. John’s Night / Wreaths (Noc Świętojańska / Wianki)
The holiday has a pagan background (a pagan name is Sobótka meaning fire). Nowadays, it is mostly the opportunity to celebrate midsummer with various festivities, including concerts, singing songs, bonfire jumping. Women wear wildflower wreaths that later are thrown into river or pond.
It’s not as loudly celebrated as Mother’s Day, however, each mother makes sure that children at least hug their father;)
- June 26
End of the school year in Polish schools
The last day of the school year is celebrated with speeches, concerts, shows. Teachers get flowers. Parents of younger kids usually take a day or a few hours off to participate in the ceremonies. In 2020, the school year will resume on September 1.
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