St. Andrew's Day Tradition in Poland
Updated: Nov 28, 2019
St. Andrew's Day, Andrzejki (pronounced “un-j-key”) is on the night of November 29-30, on the eve of Saint Andrew.
Currently more associated with dance parties and generally partying before the beginning of Advent (a period of fasting before Christmas) in the Catholic church.
In Scotland, the day of Saint Andrew celebrated on November 30 is a national holiday!
Saint Andrew was an apostle, a disciple of John the Baptist, and later of Christ. Andrew was associated with divinations by the Greeks (probably from the similarity of the words "andrós" and "Andreas" - meaning the man and Andrew respectively), and it is to them that we owe the magical character of this holiday.
Initially, this special evening was of a matrimonial nature. Unmarried girls gathered to find out who the future husband will be using magic rites. The single young men celebrated this tradition a few days earlier on November 25 on Katarzyna (Saint Catherine). With time, however, they took on a collective form up to the present times, when only a spanking of wax pouring was widespread from many magical treatments.
And how the magic worked?
Melted wax was poured into cold water (for best results through an opening which is formed by the bow of the key). Then, the solid mass was held between the wall and the candle, and from the shadows cast on the wall one could reads his/her future for the next year.
Naturally, the key must be old fashioned as it would be difficult to do it through a tiny hole!
In the old times, the maidens hoped to find out from the shadows cast on the wall what the future husband will look like, or the attributes of his profession. Interpretations and fun were endless and it was a great and hilarious way to spend one of those long evenings (it gets dark after 4 p.m. in November).
There were also other games.
The shoes of girls gathered in a large room were put in a row from the wall towards the entrance and the owner of the shoe first reaching the threshold was the first to marry in the nearest future.
As for the bachelors it was also believed that the side from which the dog barked was to be the one from which the future spouse would come.
Another fun consisted in the fact that the maids stood in a circle and let in the gander with blindfolded eyes; the girl to whom the gander first came (or nibbled) - she was the first to get married.
In some regions of Poland, the young (maids and bachelors) would write names on two pieces of paper, girls' names on one and boys on the other. The girls and boys would then pierce the paper with a name on it using a small straw, naturally with the names hidden face down. The girl was later to marry the boy whose name she pierced, and obviously the same went for the boys, who would blindly choose papers with girls’ names.
On this magic evening, you can also check whether your dreams will come true…
Make a wish and light two matches. Hold them with burning heads up. If the matches burn towards each other, the wish will be fulfilled within a year, and if not - you will have to wait longer.
Regardless of the divination, Poles spend the night, dancing and partying till dawn as Andrzej is one of the most popular Polish names. Married or single, the fun is here and the next crazy night is the Sylwester, the New Year’s Eve.
This is one of the few occasions except for New Year's Eve and Mardi Gras (before the big fast in the Catholic church), when loud music and masses of drinkers do not offend anyone.
The only problem, as usual, is the day after.
But at least you can say ”Oh, the fun we had”.
Next time, when you are in Poland during that period and wish to have fun contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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