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Barborka: Miner’s Day & Saint Barbara’s Day in Poland

Miner’s Day & Saint Barbara’s Day in Poland

On Saint Barbara’s Day, Poles celebrate faithfulness, feminine beauty, and miners. In fact, this holiday is also referred to as Miners’ Day!

In this article, you’ll learn a little bit about Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners. You’ll also delve into the most popular Polish traditions for this holiday and learn some relevant Polish vocabulary.

At, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative. Let’s get started!

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1. What is Saint Barbara’s Day?

Saint Barbara’s Day (Barborka/Miner’s Day) is both the feast day of St. Barbara and the name day for girls with this common name. Considering Barbara’s role as the patron saint of miners, Poles also celebrate this holiday as Miners’ Day.

Saint Barbara’s popularity as a religious and cultural figure originated in a story, which today is debated as to its accuracy.

In the story, a young woman named Barbara lived in a tower, where her father locked her away. At some point, she is said to have developed a keen interest in Christianity. One day, her father came home and discovered that she had made three windows—representing the Holy Trinity—in the bath he had been building. Barbara admitted to him that she was now a Christian and, angry, her father beat her before handing her over to authorities. (Christianity was illegal where they lived at this time.) Her father sought to behead her, but he was struck down by lightning before he was able to do so.

Today, Saint Barbara is portrayed as a prime example of genuine Christian faith and as the patroness of miners.

2. When is St. Barbara’s Day?

Saint Barbara

Each year, Poland observes Saint Barbara’s Day on December 4.

3. Saint Barbara’s Day Celebrations & Traditions

A Ritual Being Performed

1- Miners

Barbara’s Day is celebrated mainly as a holiday for miners. Their work is both dangerous and rewarding, and the fruits of their labor were quite valuable in times past.

On this day, miners from the Silesia region of Poland gather together for special celebrations. These usually take the form of a ball, for which occasion the miners dress in nice black suits. To complete their celebratory outfits and further accentuate their high ranking in society, the miners wear hats with different-colored feathers in them based on rank.

The miners also take part in parades, marches, and concerts, as well as a special meeting with each other.

2- Cherry Branches

Poland hasn’t forgotten the more feminine side of this holiday, either. As Saint Barbara is considered a prime example of a faithful Christian, especially for women, on the Barbara name day, Poland has traditions that reflect this.

Perhaps the most popular is that of the cherry branch. In Poland, young women take the branch of a cherry tree into their home, place it in a pot of water somewhere near the stove, and hope that the warmth of the stove and nourishment from the water will help the cherry blossoms bud sooner.

While the specifics of this tradition vary from region to region, most people believe that if the blossoms do bud, the young woman will marry in the near future.

4. Patroness of ___?

Do you know what else Saint Barbara is the patroness of? Here’s a snapshot:

Essentially, Saint Barbara is the patron saint of many a difficult but rewarding occupation. Can you guess where her association with lightning comes in?

5. Vocabulary You Need to Know for Miners’ Day in Poland

A Mine

Here’s some essential Polish vocabulary to learn before Barbara’s Day!

  • Górnik — Miner
  • Śląsk — Silesia
  • Kopalnia — Mine
  • WęgielCoal
  • Wydobywać — Extract
  • Patronka — Patroness
  • Święta Barbara — Saint Barbara
  • Patronować — Patronize
  • Rytuał — Ritual
  • Orkiestra — Orchestra

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Polish Barbara’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

What are your thoughts on St. Barbara’s Day in Poland? Are there any traditions here that remind you of holiday traditions in your own country? Let us know in the comments; we always love hearing from you!

This holiday doesn’t even scratch the surface of Polish culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Poland and her people, or want to memorize more fun words for winter, you may find the following pages on useful:

We hope you enjoyed this lesson and learned something new! Learning Polish doesn’t have to be a boring or overwhelming process—with PolishPod101, it can even be fun!

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Happy learning! 🙂

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