Below you will find the list of typical Polish bank holidays and their short description:
· 1.01 New Year’s Day
· 6.01 Three Kings’ Day
· Easter (Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are bank holidays in Poland)
· 3.05 Constitution Day
· 15.08 Assumption Day
· 1.11 All Saints Day
· 25-26.12 Christmas
In Poland unlike in majority of European countries Good Friday, Christmas Eve and New Yers’ Eve are not bank holidays.
New Years’ celebrations in Poland include one bank holiday on the 1st of January. The 31st of December is not a bank holiday although many Poles take one day off work on this day. In the evening most people join some kind of formal balls and informal meeting to celebrate the turn of the year. Many big cities organize concerts and parties in the central urban squares. The biggest parties of this kind are usually organized in Warsaw, Cracow, Wrocław and Tri-City. At midnight Poles drink sparkling wine and there is a display of fireworks. In some regions it is believed that eating doughnut just after midnight guarantees rich New Year.
Three King’s Day for most of the Poles is still considered a new bank holiday as it was introduced in 2011 after 50 years of disappearance from Polish bank holidays calendar. This is why the ways of celebrating it are still evolving and changing. Most of the people treat it as lengthening of Christmas period and spend the time relaxing or in a family circle. Some cities organize the Three King’s Processions during which participants dress in crowns representing pilgrimage of the Three Kings.
Easter holidays in Poland are as in other countries a moveable feast. In Poland Easter Sunday and Monday are bank holidays. Easter is a culmination of Great Lent period in Poland. Believers attend special services on Shrove Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday and Monday. For majority of Poles celebrations start on Easter Saturday when they prepare special baskets of food to be blessed in churches and then eaten on Easter Sunday. On Easter Sunday celebrations start with festive breakfast when Easter eggs are eaten and children are visited by Easter Bunny that hides presents for them. Then usually there is also a festive Easter dinner in a family circle. In Poland there is also a very interesting tradition of Śmingus-Dyngus that takes place on Easter Monday. On that day no woman is safe as men pour backets of water on them to ensure future happiness for them.
In Poland the 1st and the 3rd of May are always bank holidays (almost all shops are closed). The 1st of May is a Labor Day, the 3rd of May is the 3rd May Constitution celebration (Polish constitution, signed on the 3rd of May 1791, was the second in the world just after American one and the first one in Europe) and also Catholic holiday of the Blessed Virgin Marry the Queen of Poland. For these holidays most Poles hang Polish flags at their houses and all the state offices do the same so, you should be prepared for lots of flags everywhere. The 2nd of May although, it is not official bank holiday is the Day of National Flag (if it is working day, majority of people take 1 day off work to enjoy some spring free time). On the 1st of May there are also some street marches organized by left wing parties and on the 3rd of May there are lots of patriotic gatherings with politics and army members participation in various places, usually somehow connected with Polish martyrdom sites. Moreover, for most of Poles it is long awaited spring break where they spend their time with their families on sightseeing and short city breaks and relax. Therefore, be prepared for lack of availabilities in hotels and queues in major touristic attractions. Recently, it has also become the beginning of barbeque season, where people gather by grills with their friends and family members. Finally, it is also an important date for garden lovers who have finally some free time for tidying their gardens after long winter season. All in all, Long Polish May Weekend is something that all Poles usually really wait for.
Corpus Christi Holiday is always held on Thursday after octave of Pentecost. It is a holiday of the Holiest Sacrament and for Poles also the opportunity to publicly testify their faith. On this day every parish organizes a Corpus Christi procession in the morning. In such processions we find first girls who sprinkle flower petals before the Holiest Sacrament, then servers and priests and nuns, colour parties and then baldachin with priest and the Holiest Sacrament and after it there are church goers. The procession leads the believers to 4 altars which are especially prepared for this celebration on the way of the march. Usually, such processions take about 1-2 h. Processions vary from region to region. In some areas they are very celebrative and the procession goers wear traditional costumes. Visiting Poland on this day you have to be prepared for numerous traffic stops which are caused by processions. In most cases, police officers guide and stop the vehicles. Still, the holiday celebrations tend to be original and interesting for tourists.
Assumption Day celebration is held on the 15th of August every year. The believers usually attend Holy Mass on that day. Still, majority of people treat it as a day off work for relax. If this day happens to be close to weekend quite often Poles treat it as a so called “long weekend” and use it as an opportunity to travel. You should be prepared for slightly higher hotel prices if you travel in this time.
All Saints’ Day commemoration is held on the 1st of November. Preparations to this holiday usually start about 2 weeks in advance when people visit cemeteries to prepare graves for this holiday. During this time it is easy to encounter traffic jams near cemeteries and people tidying and cleaning tomb stones. The 1st on November is also a bank holiday in Poland during which people meditate on briefness of human life. Catholics visit the graves of their family members and friends. They bring with them flowers (usually chrysanthemums) and special colourful candles. They also pray for the souls of the dead. Moreover, there are Catholic services at cemeteries. It is also a day of family meetings. We also recommend visiting cemeteries after dark when they are enlightened by thousands of candles and have real supernatural mood. Tourists visiting Poland during this time should be prepared for denser traffic as people often visit cemeteries even a few hundred kilometres from their homes.
In Poland bank holidays include the 25th and 26th of December. Still, the most important is a festive dinner on Christmas Eve. Poles spend three days of Christmas with families, mainly at Christmas feasts. Polish children find their presents under Christmas trees on 24th of December in the evening. The main dishes for Christmas table include carp fish and dumplings and ‘bigos’ stewed dish made of sauerkraut and fresh cabbage, meat and mushrooms. They can all be tasted in Poland in restaurants from the beginning of December. Most of Christmas fairs also start around the 6th of December. Tourist have to be prepared that most shops, museums and restaurants will be closed from the 24th till 26th of December. (Check our Christmas tours here)
Bank holidays may bring some obstacles for tourist visiting Poland in that time, such as closed museums or shops. Still, they are extremely interesting periods of the year to observe Polish culture and customs. We heartily invite you to book group stays during such times and immerse yourself in the Polish culture.
Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska