Advent and Christmas in Poland


08 April 2020

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Advent and Christmas in Poland!

Christmas is one of the most important religious holidays in Poland. Preparations for the celebration start 3 weeks before Christmas Eve. These days Advent starts after November 30th, around  St. Andrew’s Eve, on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This is a time of preparation, both spiritual and physical. The time when we should focus on what will come, forgive all faults and resolve conflicts. It ends on Christmas Eve, December 24th.

In a real Polish home, everyone is involved in Christmas preparations. In addition to church traditions, this joyful time also fulfills tasks at home. At this time Poles cook, clean, decorate the house and Christmas tree and also buy presents for the loved ones.

Advent resolution

Advent is a joyful time that should be used for spiritual preparation like going to Rorate Mass. During mass in the church the lights go out and the candles light up creating an amazing atmosphere. Some also have Advent resolutions that try to fulfill, e.g. giving up sweets 🙂

Advent Calendar

Advent calendars are also very popular. It is a Flat box with numbers of days of December and doors on them. Each day the boys and girls would open a door of the calendar. Behind the doors they find pieces of chocolate. Can you imagine eat just one piece of chocolate each Day? You have to be patient and won’t eat all of them at once 🙂

St. Nicholas Day

St. Nicholas comes 6th of December. There is still a lot of time until Christmas but atmosphere is contagious. In the morning, children run out of their beds and look into the shoes cleaned the previous evening in search of a small gift from  St. Nick. Only the youngsters  get gifts, which are hidden most often in the shoes. Good children would get gifts. As for the bad children, they would get coal.

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets are getting more popular every year. It is nowadays a tradition to buy some gifts during those markets. Usually you can find Christmas Market in big cities. They are open from the end of November til the end of December. You can feel the atmosphere of Christmas long time before because whole Poland is covered with snow in the winter.  Stalls are full of hand craft, extraordinary goods, food and mulled wine. You can spend all day strolling around, buying traditional hand craft, tasting regional food and breathing in the polish christmas spirit.

Christmas Market in Bydgoszcz

Christmas presents

Today it is difficult to imagine Christmas in Poland without presents. Shops and malls begin their marketing offensive soon after All Saints Day (1 November). Poles joke that the minute the All Saints Day grave candles are removed from shop shelves, they are replaced by tree ornaments and chocolate Santas.

People are trying to buy the most beautiful gifts for their kids and family. We have XXI century so some people do shopping online so the Polish Post Office and other postal companies are extremely busy and it may take longer to get a parcel with your order than usual.

Malls, large shops and open-air markets are full of shoppers like never before. During Christmas Poles eat a lot so before they shop for food. The preparation of traditional dishes requires a variety of different ingredients which you can easily find in supermarket chains and buy from local producers.

Christmas tree in Bydgoszcz

Christmas gatherings

Christmas time is a time for family and relatives. But at this special time of year one cannot forget about friends, workmates, former classmates and various distant relatives. More or less the mid-December is period of „Christmas Eves” at the workplace. People gather together at work, shool, in friends apartments and restaurants to celebrate togheter. To talk, to eat and to give each other small gifts as a Secret Santa (each person draws another one and buy a small gift without telling out loud who is the person 🙂

Santa visits and Christmas parties are held at preschools and schools as well as at workplaces for the children of employees. On such occasions kids perform in Christmas plays and Santa Claus pays a visit to them.

Christmas Market in Krakow

Holiday greetings

Usually people sent Christmas and New Year’s cards by post but nowadays it is more popular to send them by e-mails. Poles now also exchange Christmas e-cards for sending text messages (often containing rhymes of significant or minute artistic value), phone each other or convey greetings via social media.


Christmas in Poland begins with a festive supper on Christmas Eve, 24 December, and continue celebrating for two more days. The traditional Christmas Eve feast is meatless and differs from the food served on the 25 and 26 December. Culinary preparations for Polish-style Christmas are very long. It can take even a few weeks to prepare one dish. For example Gingerbread should age for a three weeks then baked. Meats and fish has to be prepared earlier too because of marinating. If someone plans to serve home-made pierogi (filled dough pockets or dumplings), an afternoon should be set aside for their preparation.

If you think that the celebration and the food itself ends after Christmas Eve you are wrong. It’s just the beginning. The 25th of December is the day of Christ’s birth. Polish families go to church, everybody sings carols, enjoys themselves, and of course wine and dine the whole day. As well as this, the next day is the time that family members visit each other and very often people have to eat a couple of dinners before they get back home.

Christmas Market in Krakow

Christmas decorations

Nowadays most of our Christmas decorations are shop-bought, but a growing number of children and even adults enjoy creating hand-made ornaments. Traditionally these have been made of straw, nuts and Apple. People make ornaments from coloured paper, crepe paper and cardboard. You can decorate just a Christmas tree (it has to be done on Christmas Eve by the whole family together) or the whole house incuding doorway and garden or backyard.

Christmas Market in Bydgoszcz, Photo Robert Sawicki

Well, that’s basically it. Although the religious aspect of Christmas, the 25th of December is the most important day of the holiday season, the truth is that it’s the Christmas Eve that has the largest number of traditions and customs. Also, for many families, it’s the most important time to meet and spend time together.

Christmas traditions in Poland are full of magic and meaning. The customs, which have been passed down through the centuries, are deeply rooted in religion, family and nature.

I hope you now know a little bit more about this time of year in Poland and you are able to enjoy it as much as we do! You can come and experience it by yourself… check our tours: Christmas Markets and Advent in Poland 🙂

Merry Christmas! (Wesołych Świąt!)