Holidays and Traditions in Poland

National and religious holidays celebrated in Poland are marked by traditions, public celebrations, or days of rest and relaxation. If you're planning to travel to the country from the United States, you can expect to find usual holiday celebrations like Christmas and New Year's Day along with some unique Polish traditions.

From Constitution Day and Corpus Christi to Independence Day and Assumption Days, discover the unique cultural celebrations in Poland on your trip by planning around these special holidays.

While some holidays in Poland offer special opportunities for visitors to learn about Polish culture, it is also important to note that traveling during these holidays may mean that shops and public offices are closed. Plan your trip accordingly to avoid unexpected delays and cancellations.

  • 01 of 09

    January 1: New Year's Day

    Poland, Krakow, Historic houses in main Square
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    New Year's Day is celebrated across Poland on January 1, as it is in the United States. Major city centers, like Krakow's Main Market Square, are filled with celebrants waiting for the fireworks display on the night of December 31st.

    However, New Year's Day is known as Sylwester or St. Silvester's Day and marks the start of the carnival. You can experience a number of celebrations including balls and parties during the weeks that follow. Additionally, a staple of New Year's Day meals in Poland is hunter's stew, known locally as bigos.

  • 02 of 09
    Decorated eggs
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    Easter in Poland is celebrated according to the Western Calendar, so it'll fall on the same dates as celebrated in the United States. Eggs are painted and special foods are prepared, like in America, but the majority of the Polish population is Catholic, so many attend church services.

    The Monday after Easter is an important day for those celebrating in Poland. Known locally as Smigus Dyngus (also called Smingus-Dyngus), or Wet Monday, Polish people celebrate the end of the Holy Week by playfully dumping water on one another.

  • 03 of 09

    May 1: Labor Day or May Day

    Plates of food in a restaurant
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    Though it used to be acknowledged with large public displays, May Day in Poland is typically a day of rest. Protests and demonstrations for workers' rights are sometimes held in major cities on this public holiday, but these have also declined in recent years. Many public restaurants and shops—and all government offices and schools—are closed on May Day.

  • 04 of 09

    May 3: Constitution Day

    Ratusz (Town Hall), Neorenaissance style, in Jawor, Lower Silesia, Poland
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    Constitution Day in Poland celebrates the creation and signing of Europe's first codified constitution on May 3, 1791, for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It is often marked with parades and other public displays of celebration and is part of a holiday season known as Majówka that includes May Day.

    Similar to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C., Warsaw has what's known as Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza at the Piłsudski Square that commemorates the unknown lives lost to war. Many people gather here on Constitution Day to honor the fallen.

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  • 05 of 09

    Summer: Corpus Christi

    Corpus Christi
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    Celebrated 60 days after Easter, Corpus Christi is both a national and religious holiday. It is marked by religious processions through towns and villages, prayer, and attendance at church services. Most Corpus Christi processions begin around noon and collect followers along with their route. Bystanders can also watch the procession from the sidelines.

  • 06 of 09

    August 15: Assumption Day

    Hand lighting a candle
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    August 15 celebrates the Virgin Mary's ascent into heaven. The day is marked by religious observances, including church attendance. Additionally, a number of Polish churches honor fallen soldiers on this day, and some even visit cemeteries to visit their graves.

    At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, there is a Change of Guards on this day, and Czestochowa is a popular destination for religious tourists hoping to visit the Sanctuary of Jasna Góra to commemorate this holy day.

  • 07 of 09
    A lit candle
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    All Saints' Day (Wszystkich Swietych) commemorates those who have died. Also known as the Day of the Dead, Polish people celebrate November 1 by visiting cemeteries and placing lit candles on the graves of loved ones, which they allow them to burn through the night.

    You can attend special All Saints' Day masses at churches around the country. Although the following day isn't a public holiday, November 2 is known as All Souls' Day (Dzien Zaduszny) and also features a number of religious ceremonies and visits to family gravesites.

  • 08 of 09

    November 11: Independence Day

    Men marching
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    Independence Day in Poland celebrates the country's assumption of independence in 1918, and November 11 has been celebrated as Independence Day in Poland since 1989.

    Much like the Fourth of July in the United States, the 11th of November in Poland is celebrated with parades, fireworks, and parties as well as office and school closures. However, some churches also hold special masses and the Race of Independence gathers thousands of participants from across the country.

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  • 09 of 09
    Christmas tree
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    Christmas Eve is the most important Christian holiday in Poland and is called Wigilia. It is marked with a special meal, often made up of 12 meatless dishes and observance of other Christmas Eve traditions. The Christmas tree is typically decorated on this day, and a large dinner may also be prepared for Christmas Day.