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We are just steps away from the first days of calendar spring, which officially starts on March 21st. Spring’s warmer weather and increased daylight hours make it one of the best and favorite seasons to many of us. Poland is a perfect destination all year round, but there is just something exceptional about Polish spring that marks that season as unusually beautiful.

Traveling down country roads that pass through yellow dandelion meadows and fields of blooming rapeseed and following the roadside willows, lush with fresh, green leaves, will lead to many curious locations. All these sites present a chance to learn about local customs, traditions, and regional cuisine. In the countryside, farm stays offer an opportunity to enjoy the famed Polish hospitality, a key feature of Polish culture that combines a warm and welcoming invite with a hearty, rustic, and fresh meal.

Next to Christmas, Easter is the most important religious event in Poland. Easter celebrations across Poland are colorful, vibrant, and follow specific rituals. Visiting Poland during the Holy Week and Easter holidays will certainly underline and illustrate how the Catholic faith is part of Polish culture and tradition. 

There are a few other festivities and commemorations related to the first days of spring. One has roots in pagan beliefs, the other in student life, and the last in more modern and contemporary Polish history.

The Drowning of Marzanna or the Winter’s Witch is probably one of the most strange and bizarre spring celebrations. A tradition dating back to pagan Slavs to guarantee a prompt arrival of warm weather and a good harvest was to burn and drown Marzanna- goddess of winter, pestilence, and death.

Traditionally, Marzanna is represented by a straw figure wrapped in colorful linen, decorated with ribbons, beads, and other ornaments. The doll is set on fire and thrown in the river. It is later picked up and cheerfully paraded through town. This marks the end of winter and the beginning of springtime.

In Poland, the first day of spring is also known as Dzień Wagarowicza- “Truant’s Day,” and it is an unofficial occasion to play hooky. On that day, many students cut class and head to local parks and gardens to celebrate the incoming spring, longer days, and warmer weather. Not showing up in school is generally frowned upon, but teachers and professors show a degree of leniency on that day.  

Majówka or a long Mayday weekend is probably one of the most awaited breaks in Poland. Two holidays of Labor Day on May 1st, and restored in 1990, Constitution Day on May 3rd resulted in an extended weekend. During this time, scores of Poles take off from work and enjoy spending time with their friends and families. Expanding the Mayday weekend created a new spring custom of outdoor grilling. Grilling and barbequing was not exactly a practiced tradition in Poland but now is one of the favorite pastimes and methods of cooking food during holidays. The scent of grilled Polish sausage or pork shoulder became a signature smell of quality time in Poland.

 

  

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