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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 9 - All Saints’ Day. In Polish, it’s called Wszystkich Świętych.
Now it's time to talk about a very serious holiday, one that has no place for loud fun or overeating, as is usually the case with Polish festivities. This is of course All Saints’ Day. It is celebrated on the first of November. Because of certain changes that occurred during the time of the PRL (People’s Republic of Poland) between 1952 and 1989, we have two different names for this holiday—All Saints' Day or Holiday of the Dead.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Is the popular American holiday Halloween celebrated in Poland?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
All Saints’ Day dates back to the fourth century and is a celebration connected with the Church. In the year 610, Pope Boniface IV placed the relics of unknown saints, who gave up their lives for Christ, in a temple and proclaimed May 14 as their memorial day. In the following years, the successive pope, or papież in Polish, changed this date to November 1, which is the date celebrated to this day.
Today, All Saints’ Day is a day of remembrance and a day to pay one’s respects to the zmarły, the Polish word for the dead. As this holiday is a day off work, many Poles return to their hometowns to visit the graves of their loved ones. As mentioned earlier, it is a religious holiday, but more importantly it's a day of remembrance for those who have died. Thus, regardless of their religion, the majority of Poles go to cmentarz, or cemeteries, on this day to light candles and place flowers on gravestones. The most popular flowers are chrysanthemums of various colors.
The following day, November 2, is called All Souls' Day or Zaduszki. Long ago, it was a pagan festival to honor the dead. It was once believed that on this day, the spirits of the dead known as duchy visited their loved ones, and therefore you had to be very careful not to harm or offend a visiting soul in any way on that day. Churning butter, using axes, sewing, pouring out dirty water, and spitting were forbidden. The tradition of lighting candles also comes from that time; back then, fires were lit so that the souls could warm up.
As was already mentioned, almost all Poles go to cemeteries during All Saints’ Day to light candles. This creates a beautiful scene after dark, and is the reason that for a week or so after this day, cemeteries become a very romantic and popular place for evening strolls.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Is the popular American holiday Halloween celebrated in Poland?
In Poland, Halloween isn’t too popular. Of course, for young people it is another opportunity to have a party wearing fun costumes, and for children it's a chance to play trick or treat, or in Polish cukierek albo psikus. Nevertheless, Halloween has not gained great recognition in Poland, probably due to the reverence surrounding All Saints’ Day, which has a much more somber and reflective atmosphere than that of Halloween.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Does your country have a holiday in memory of loved ones who have passed away?
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See you next time!