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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 2. St. Nicholas Day. In Polish, it’s called mikołajki.
In this lesson, you will learn about a very interesting feast called Saint Nicholas Day, which is celebrated every year on December 6th.
Saint Nicholas Day is a day that reminds Poles that Christmas is just around the corner, and is celebrated by exchanging secret gifts. This is why Santa Claus, who is derived from the story of Saint Nicholas, or in Polish Święty Mikołaj, always visits Poles twice a year!
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
In the past, what was Santa Claus said to do if the children he visited had dirty shoes?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Historically, in Poland December 6 is the day when people would celebrate the memory of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a historical figure of great importance. The story goes that he inherited a great fortune from his parents, but instead of keeping it for himself, he gave it away to people in need, never asking for anything in return. Saint Nicholas is also the patron saint of children, which is why they are in the limelight on December 6.
Nowadays, the benevolent Saint Nicholas has been replaced by the modern-day Santa Claus with his red suit and white beard. Still, in Poland the tradition of ​​giving secret little gifts, or upominki, on December 6 has survived the years.
Every child in Poland knows that on the night between December 5 and 6, when everybody is sleeping deeply, Santa Claus comes to leave small gifts under the pillows of sleeping children, but of course only those that were well-behaved during the year. In other regions, Santa Claus leaves presents inside shoes or buty. Usually it is the parents who play the role of Santa, but as children grow up they make small gifts for their parents as well.
Kindergartens or przedszkole and primary schools, or szkoła podstawowa usually don’t hold classes on this day. They instead have special games, and the high point of the day is always the unexpected appearance of Santa Claus carrying a big bag filled with gifts. But in order to receive a gift, you have to sing a song or tell Santa a rhyme.
On St. Nicholas Day, all the fun is in giving a gift secretly. If you do it at home, it usually involves waking up in the middle of the night. If you have a gift for someone from outside your home, you have to be even more cunning!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
In the past, what was Santa Claus said to do if the children he visited had dirty shoes?
If Santa Claus found your shoes in disarray and dirty instead of clean and nicely arranged, he was said to forgo giving gifts, and instead leave a rotten potato, or zgniły ziemniak !
And how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you also celebrate St. Nicholas Day in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at PolishPod101.com!
See you next time!