St. Andrew Day – Andrzejki in Poland
In Poland, like in many other countries , we celebrate St. Andrew’s Day although it has a different meaning for us, as it took on a part of ancient Polish traditions and customs. The origin of Adrzejki, which is what we call it, is pagan but we applied a Catholic name to be more acceptable for Catholic society. For foreigners this day is a great occasion to experience ancient Polish customs and to fill up with food and drink. But before the fun starts it is always a good idea to know what to expect.
Like in any other Polish celebration there is a feast and it works exactly the same as any other feast in Poland: there is loads of food and drinks (and more). Because this is the last day before lent (Christmas lent, not the Easter one!) people eat and drink as much as they can. As well this is the last day to have a party. At the weekend which is the closest to 29th of November, nearly every club organizes a party. Andrzejkowe party is different from the ones you have got used to. You will not only dance or drink, but also you will have your future foretold (yes you didn’t read wrong).
In the past, the celebration was treated very seriously. It was one of those days when people could see the future (they didn’t have horoscopes in magazines as we do, so they had to find a different way to predict it). On the 29th November, in the middle of the night, the saint’s duty was to help young girls find out who their husbands would be. It was quite useful – girls didn’t waste their time with Maciek, when they knew that their prince charming’s name was Marek. Boys used to have their own predict-my-future-wife day, on the 24th of November (it was St. Katherine who helped them), however, men were more aware of what kind of girl they liked, so this tradition didn’t survive and now we have only Andrzejki used for both genders.
A quick guide to Polish Andrzejki future predicting customs
A good foretelling of the future must happen in a group of friends. But be careful! If you are a girl you have to meet with just your girl friends, and men – with male friends. Why? If your girlfriend finds out that she won’t be your future wife it may cause a slight problem.
Predictions of the future using wax – the most well-known divination technique based on pouring wax. You have to melt wax and then pour into cold water. It is not so easy, because the wax must go through the hole in a key. At the end you take the wax figure (or something you just created) and look at the shadow of it, as it is a prophecy for the next year.
Shoes race – everyone in a group take off their shoes. Your next task is to go to the furthest wall from the doors and by putting one shoe at a time in front of each other in the direction of the door. The first shoe which crosses the doorstep belongs to the person who will soon change their marital status.
Picking (literally) the name of your future husband or wife – take a sheet of paper and write as many names of opposite sex as you can (the paper very often is shaped like a heart). Then turn it back to your friends and let put a pin into the back of the paper. The name which is the closest to the pin is your future husband or wife’s name (in some Polish regions you put the pin in the paper yourself).
We hope you will enjoy Andrzejki and this day will bring you loads of fun and maybe, who knows, some insight into the future.