Spring 2019 in Poland: 6 bank holidays, time change, observances & celebrations
- March 5
Last day of 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.
- March 6
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, and snacks on that day.
- 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 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 31
Time change (zmiana czasu)
On Sunday, March 31, 2019 at 02:00 am clocks are turned forward 1 hour to 03:00 am. It may be the last time change in Poland since the European Commission recommended to end seasonal time changes in 2019 throughout the European Union, leaving member states the freedom to decide their standard time.
- 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 14
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 19
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 20
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 21
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 22
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 holiday in Poland. Stores, malls, shopping centers are closed. Only some smaller local convenience stores can be open. Stores at gas stations are open every day, 24 h. In Warsaw and other major cities in Poland, there are political marches to promote workers rights. May 1 starts a so-called długi weekend in Poland (long weekend) – Majówka (please note that May 2 is a regular working day, however schools are closed and people usually take a day off). People often go on a short vacation. Polish seaside, Zakopane, and other major touristic destinations get crowded.
- May 2
Working day. 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 holiday in Poland. Stores, malls, shopping centers are closed. Only some smaller local convenience stores can be open. Stores at gas stations are open every day, 24 h. 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). Constitution Day is celebrated with speeches, military parades, picnics.
- 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.
- 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 9
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 20
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.
Click on the photos below to read other posts: