Birthday and name day ☼

In Poland, depending on the region, it is celebrated birthday or namesday.


Poland is a very Catholic country, so traditionally a name day is celebrated here – the day of the saint patron. The exceptions are regions of Kashubia and Upper Silesia, where birthday is preferred. The person celebrating name day gets flowers and possibly a gift. The most popular names are Anna, Joseph (Józef), Sophie (Zofia), Peter (Piotr) and Paul (Paweł), John (Jan), Stanisław and Andrew (Andrzej). Some of them are celebrated in a very specific way.

Andrew’s name day November 30

The day before is the popular day of divination. We write more of it in 29.11 – andrzejki.


Augury of wax / photo: Renata Głuszek

Christine name day (March 13)

Very pompously celebrate their feast women named Christine, which organize meetings full of attractions. Every year in the other city.


Lublin 2016 /

Barbara name day (December 4) – “Barbórka” 

In coal mining Upper Silesia Barbara’s name day is very important  as St Barbara is a patroness of miners. So this day, named “Barbórka”, is very solemnly celebrated by the miners. It takes form of so-called “Karczma Piwna” = “Beer pub”, where miners (men only!) drink a lot and make rough jokes.


Karczma Piwna KWK Wujek, 2014 / photo:

St Martin Day (November 11)

St Martin is celebrated in many European countries and in Poland is best known for its picturesque procession in Poznan. At the head of the procession is marching  st Martin, whom the mayor of Poznań gives the keys to the city. Traditional goody in Poznań on this day is delicious st. Martin croissante and meat of geese. St Martin is celebrated also in few other cities.


Festive procession of Saint Martin (photo: Patnac) and St. Martin croissante (photo: Radomil)

A little bit of history

The author of this article remembers the name days celebrated in the countryside (in 70s, 80s) where she had a grandfather Peter. As his name day (very popular) had place in June, family and friends plucked flowers in the garden and with the simply “garden” bouquet used to come with wishes. On-site they drunk some glass of vodka (or more), ate a piece of cake, bread, ham and went to say wishes to the other person in the village. It was simple, without much celebration, invitations, etc.


The way of handling birthday is changing nowadays, new habits appear. There is no rule. A woman celebrating birthday should get flowers and a gift, a man – a gift, like a bottle of good alcohol. It is allowed (in a family circle)  to get money with a birthday wishes card.




Traditional Polish birthday party starts late afternoon (5-6 pm) and takes place at home, with family and friends. Food is prepared by hosts. Some housewives prepare a lot of it!


A bit of history

In the past, when Poland was a country of empty shelves (70., 80. years of 20th century), the rarity was ham (luxury at this time) and traditional party dish was vegetable salad made of thinly cut potatoes, carrot, parsley, celery, with peas and all mixed with mayonnaise.

The birthday cake is a cream cake, decorated with candles to be blown off (the number of them is appropriate to age of the hero of the party) or with wax ciphers. This custom is not respected by all however.


Cream cake made by Hania Błażyca

The standard course of a birthday party is as follows:

– wishes and gifts given to the person celebrating birthday by guests after their arrival (gift should be unpacked and enjoy the gifted person)

– champagne toast combined with traditional birthdays songs: Sto lat (“A hundred years”) and  Niech mu gwiazdka pomyślności nigdy nie zagaśnie (Let his prosperity star never be quenched”)

– coffee and cake, fruits

–  “cold plate”: meat, cheese, eggs, herrings, salads and other dishes, usually also those which are not eaten on a daily basis, just made for special occasion


– “hot dish” like fried meat, stew, grill food

Guests drink different kind of alcohol and juices, mineral water. By the birthday table Poles spend a couple of hours. Very often they discuss hot politic topics what can make the atmosphere “hot”. Other favorite topic is health and money.


Birthday party can take place also in the garden (grill party), restaurant or pub – depending on the age and possibilities. Some people order catering service. Restaurant and catering is an option for the more affluent people. Younger people can arrange a simply meeting with friends in a pub. What concerns kids, they also have house parties, although some parents prefer to go the easiest way and celebrate at McDonalds or other fast food chain.

At their birthday school children treat their classmates with candies, adults bring cake to their work place.


The 1st (Pol. roczek = little year)

Celebrated mainly at Upper Silesia and are more solemn than other birthdays, of a very high rank here. At very religious Silesia it is accompanied with the special Mass in which the one year old hero participates dressed in white and with a wreath of myrtle: girls on their head, boys on the hand, or myrtle decorates a big candle.

A special song is sung: When you Jesus were walking on this world. After Mess priest blesses the child and the godparents.


The party can take place at home or in restaurant. The birthday cake has to be decorated with one candle.


The “age of innocence” in this casen has gone long time ago. Once it was just an ordinary birthday party with school friends, only parents used to go to the cinema to let the young people to be home alone. Today, 18th birthday is treated as entering the adulthood, so gifts are erotic (sexy underwear, penis shape soap, candy ladies pants to be eaten, condoms, etc.). Cream cakes (those baked in confectionery of course) are decorated with chocolate penises or breasts.



Sometimes erotic dances are performed at the party (which is not always met with enthusiasm of the hero – mostly a girl – highly surprised with that kind of birthday gift). Some young people practice 18 painful blows to the buttocks of the person celebrating his/her birthday.


The form of the event depends on the financial possibilities and individual choices.

50 – “abraham”

Celebrated mainly at Upper Silesia. More festive, like any other full birthdays (40, 60, 70 etc). “Abraham” is usually accompanied with Mass. Poles do not decorate their houses with special gadgets indicating 50th birthday.


Renata Głuszek

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