DINOLINGO The most important holidays in Poland are Christmas Eve and Easter. Christmas Eve, celebrated December 24th, is called Wigilia, and it celebrates the birth of Jesus. Traditionally, Poles put up a Christmas tree and decorate it with ornaments, stars, candy, and oranges, and presents are placed underneath it. The biggest meal of Christmas is eaten during Wigilia, and it contains no meat, but usually many fish dishes including carp and herring. The Christmas celebrations typically begin at the sighting of the first star in the sky (and the sun sets early in Poland in the winter, so the first star is usually seen around 3 p.m.), and families get together to eat and open presents. December 25th and 26th are considered the “second day of Christmas” and “third day of Christmas” and are celebrated with family get-togethers and holiday meals (this time containing meat). In many cities and villages, there is also usually a Christmas procession where people walk through the streets with candles, and end up in church to celebrate Mass.
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, and takes place on a Sunday in March or April. Easter is celebrated in Poland with the dyeing and painting of eggs (called pisanki) and an elaborate meal eaten with the family. A traditional cake called mazurek is made for Easter, and is a flat cake filled with chocolate or a caramel-like filling called kajmak. Common symbols of Easter are eggs, rabbits, and flowers.
The day after Easter is a children’s holiday called śmingus-dingus, in which children pour water on each other, often after planning an elaborate ambush or hiding out to surprise their siblings or friends with the water.
Another traditional holidays is All Saints’ Day (Dzień Wszystkich Świętych) on November 1, which celebrates the dead and people visit the graves of loved ones, leaving candles and flowers. In the evening, graveyards in Poland are lit up with candlelight and are eerily beautiful.
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