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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Poland Series at PolishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Polish holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 10 - St. Andrew’s Day. In Polish, it’s called andrzejki.
Would you like to know when you will meet the love of your life? Would you like to know what his or her name will be? Or maybe who among your friends will be the first to get married? If you want to know your przyszłość, the Polish word for future, make sure that you visit Poland on the night of November 29-30. This is when St Andrew’s Eve is celebrated—a night of magic and fortune-telling.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
One of the most popular divinations is to draw lots for objects that have a symbolic meaning. These are a leaf, a rosary, and a ring. Can you guess the symbolism behind each of them?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The origin of St. Andrew’s Eve is not fully known. Some believe that this holiday stems from ancient Greece, others that it comes from old Germanic beliefs. St. Andrew’s Eve was brought to Poland in the sixteenth century, and since then it has been a magical time, a time when people can catch a glimpse into the future to see how their love life turns out.
Originally, due to the character of the divinations, known as wróżby in Polish, St. Andrew’s Eve was celebrated only by unmarried girls. In those days, it was believed that on St. Andrew’s Eve, a young girl could look into a well and catch a glimpse of a reflection of the face of their future beloved. Other girls would gather in a circle and let a blindfolded goose inside the circle. The girl that the goose would come to, would be the one that would marry the soonest. Another divination had young girls make balls of dough, called placuszki, representing individual boys in their village. They would then throw these balls to a dog and whichever one the dog ate first would be the boy the girl would marry.
These days, St. Andrew’s Eve is still a day for young people to enjoy themselves and get their fortunes told. One ritual that has survived to this day is the pouring of molten wax into cold water through the hole of an old key. The shadow cast by the solidified wax is meant to tell the future. Another very popular divination uses the shoes of the participants. They are placed one in front of the other, until one crosses the doorstep. The owner of this shoe is said to be the one who will marry the soonest out of all the participants. Of course, these divination rituals are really just for fun. Most Poles don’t necessarily believe that they are actually accurate in predicting the future.
Since St. Andrew’s Eve was intended more for girls, boys also had their own festival to predict their future beloved. It was the holiday of St. Katherine, celebrated on the night of November 24-25. Unfortunately, this traditional holiday has all but disappeared. Instead, nowadays boys and girls both come together to have fun on St. Andrew’s Eve.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
There are various St. Andrew’s divinations and one of them is to draw lots for one of the three objects. What do they represent?
A ring symbolizes that the person will soon marry, a leaf indicates spinsterhood, and a rosary means the person is destined to lead a life in the church.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have any holidays similar to St. Andrew’s Eve in your country?
Leave us a comment at PolishPod101.com!
See you next time!