New Year’s Eve –Polish traditions and superstitions
The end of the year is definitely considered to be special time of the year. It’s the time of reflection, setting resolutions, plans and in case of New Year’s Eve also great celebration.
How do we celebrate New Year’s Eve in Poland?
Of course everyone has their own favourite way of spending this unique day – I would say that the most common choice is hanging out with friends – gathering together, organizing a typical house party with drinking and eating snacks. Then you may as well play board games or dance. Some people also go to discos, concerts or attend different types of organised events. Others prefer to just stay at home – whatever floats your boat.
One of the associations that comes to my mind while thinking about New Year’s Eve are firecrackers and fireworks. We count till the midnight and then make a toast and go outside to watch firework displays. What’s interesting, the tradition of making noise on this night dates back to pagan times when there was a superstition that a huge amount of racket will drive the evil and misfortune off.
The drink that we use to propose a toast is champagne (or sparkled wine). It was once used to fortune telling. Bigger bubbles were supposed to mean upcoming big changes and the small ones peace and stabilisation.
There is one tradition that used to be practiced but I haven’t heard about anyone practising it nowadays – throwing oats at one another in order to wish good luck.
In some parts of Poland – especially in Greater Poland, there is a tradition of making pranks and for instance stealing the gates or tools. It may sound unreasonable, but happens to this day in some villages. Similarly, smudging windows and doorknobs of the house with tar.
You may also observe many Poles having a carp’s scale in their wallet. As strange as it may seem, it’s supposed to bring prosperity and wealth for the upcoming year. Opening all the doors and windows is a way of welcoming the New Year and saying goodbye to the old one, simultaneously taking all the worries and troubles away. Moreover, you shouldn’t clean on the first of January in order not to sweep away happiness that managed to welcome in your house. There is also a belief that we should close all the cases – pay off debts and invoices, try to end all the arguments. We can also prepare a list of problems and troubles writing them on paper and then burn it as a symbol of saying goodbye and starting out a new year with a clean slate.
By Wiktoria Bartz, KONTAKT, Poland.