Polish bank holidays and their celebrations by ITS DMC Poland

It is often said that travelling broadens our horizons and enriches us as human beings. Still, seeing just the postcard sights is not what it is all about. Mingling with locals, experiencing cuisine and customs makes every journey more worthwhile. This is why ITS DMC Poland; local Polish travel agent wants to present the characteristic of Polish bank holidays and the way they are celebrated. Discover the new culture within this article and also get interested in Poland. Maybe it is the highest time to explore this part of Europe.

List of Polish bank holidays:

  • 01 New Year’s Day
  • 01 Three Kings’ Day
  • Easter (Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are bank holidays in Poland)
  • 05 Labour Day
  • 05 Constitution Day
  • Corpus Christi
  • 08 Assumption Day
  • 11
  • All Saints Day
  • 11 Independence Day
  • 25-26.12
  • Christmas

In Poland unlike in majority of European countries Good Friday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are not bank holidays. There are also more religious than secular holidays during the year.

Secular holidays

Traditionally New Year’s Day is a bank holiday in Poland usually spent to rest after the parties that are organized on the New Year’s Eve night. The Poles enjoy then many home parties, official balls and live open air New Year’s concerts. Majority of big Polish agglomerations organize such events in the main cities’ squares where thousands attend. ITS DMC Poland states that the biggest concerts of this type come from cooperation of the local authorities and various national television channels. Every year the most popular live events are transmitted from Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw or Tri-city. At midnight there are traditional fireworks shows.

Other two secular bank holidays are celebrated on the 1st and the 3rd of May and often create so called “long weekend” for many Poles. Lots of people quite often takes a free day off work on the 2nd of May and with free Saturday and Sunday can often enjoy up to 5 days out of work. The 1st of May is a celebration of the International Labour Day that is supposed to be a holiday of working people. In many buildings tourists will find Polish flags on this day (the same applies to the 3rd of May). In some regions of Poland some government officials also pay tribute to the labour parties’ heroes by laying flowers by monuments commemorating them. Still, some Poles feel that this holiday is the Communist one and do not participate in celebrations in protest. The 3rd of May is a commemoration of the passing of the first Polish constitution in 1791 which actually was the second document of this type in the world just after American one. During that day some army and politicians’ parades and citizens’ marches are organised and also historic events reconstructions. All the Long May Weekend for many Poles is mainly the celebration of spring and foremost beginning of gardening and barbecue seasons. It is time they relax and enjoy a few days of work in finally good weather after long winter months. Many Poles take this opportunity to travel and organize some short breaks either at the seaside or in the mountains or just use this time to visit museums with their families. This is why ITS DMC Poland warns that tourists should be prepared for higher accommodation prices and longer queues in major tourist attractions.

Finally, the last secular holiday is celebrated on the 11th of November and it is Polish Independence Day. It was established to commemorate regaining independence in 1918, after 123 years of partitions (1795–1918) where Poland vanished from the maps of Europe. On this day Independence Marches and historical reconstruction shows are performed. ITS DMC Poland says that the biggest marches are organized in Warsaw, so it is the best place to observe the holiday.

Religious holidays

The biggest Christian holidays in Poland definitely include Easter and Christmas. Both of them are family celebrations which people spend in their family circles mainly siting at tables full of food. Unlike in many European countries Good Friday in Poland is an ordinary working day. Believers in Poland attend sermons and masses every day from Shrove Thursday till Easter Monday. Children really enjoy egg hunts on Easter Sunday and small gifts left for them by Easter Bunny. On Easter Monday there is a unique “Smingus Dyngus” tradition during which boys pour water on girls and young woman. ITS DMC Poland warns and jokes that especially young woman are not safe from water on Polish streets then and a male protector can be really handy. The tradition says that the wetter the girl gets the sooner she will marry. Therefore, plastic water guns and water bottles and buckets are widely used. Nowadays, in the modern, more emancipated world, girls quite often do not remain in debt and also pour water on boys, so in some places water epic fights emerge to the greater enjoyment of participants.

Many people may be surprised to hear that for the Poles the 24rd of December is the most important day during Christmas and it is not a bank holiday. Christmas celebrations start in the evening when a very solemn Christmas dinner is served. In most Polish families the dinner starts with reading of the Gospel and sharing “oplatek” which is a special wafer shared with good Christmas wishes. After dinner which should consist of 12 lent dishes and an obligatory carp fish, Christmas carols are sung and children are visited by Santa Claus. He leaves the gifts either under the Christmas Tree or by the door or window (as open fireplaces are not popular in Poland and there are traditionally no Christmas stockings; though, ITS DMC Poland states that due to international commerce they start to appear rather as Christmas decorations). Next two days of Christmas, Poles also spend on family gatherings and meals. Continuation of the Christmas season is Three Kings Holiday that is still fairly new to Poles as it was introduced only in 2011. During this day Three Kings’ Marches are organised where people dress like kings.

Other smaller Christian holidays include Corpus Christi, Assumption and All Saint’s Day. ITS DMC Poland says that Corpus Christi and All Saint’s Day are the most interesting to tourists. Poland and Spain have the most spectacular Corpus Christi Processions and they are organized by almost every parish in the country. It is especially worth to see the processions in Cracow, Chocholow, Lowicz or Spycimierz. They include folklore costumes, working groups participants and beautiful flower arrangements. All Saint’s Day is a huge holiday of the dead that takes place in November. On that day masses of people visit cemeteries to leave flowers and candles to commemorate their close ones. Polish cemeteries on that day look really spectacular.

Polish holidays are really worth to be seen. This is why it is a good idea to visit Poland when they occur to discover and experience more of Polish culture, customs and taste delicious holiday cuisine. A well balanced and designed trip will allow you to enjoy the main tourist sights and also find out interesting cultural elements. If you need any help in such planning feel free to contact ITS DMC Poland, trusted local travel agent that has been organising international groups’ stays in Poland since 2005. Don’t wait any longer, start your Polish adventure still today!

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