Thanks to its climate, spectacular architecture and rich
traditions that enliven the holiday season,
Krakow may well
aspire to the title of the world capital of white Christmas.
And the whole thing lasts longer in the Krakow region than
anywhere else – Christmas trees glitter here and carols
resound till the end of January.
to Christmastide starts at the outset of December. Seasonal
street decorations and window-dressing, omnipresent noel
tunes, shopping spree, universal well-wishing, etc. – it may
look alike elsewhere but the fairyland scenery of Krakow’s
numerous Gothic churches and Baroque palaces is
unique. And Santa Claus keeps on visiting every kid in the
city early, i.e. on December 6, his name day, to return
later on the Christmas Eve. Another highlight comes on the
first Thursday of December with the yearly contest of famous Krakow Christmas cribs on the Grand Square.
celebration begins when
the first star appears in the sky, with sharing an ‘oplatek’
wafer with everybody present and wishing him nice things to
happen in the next twelve months. Then comes traditional
12-course common dinner of time-honored meatless dishes
(fish, and notably carp, being a must), an additional cover
always laid for an unexpected guest and a handful of hay put
under the tablecloth for good luck. After the meal is time
for caroling and unwrapping Christmas gifts. The faithful
pack into the beautiful Krakow churches at midnight when the
special ‘Pasterka’ mass is said in remembrance of shepherds
adoring newly born Christ. And on the Christmas Eve
immediately after midnight animals allegedly can speak their
and notably the following
holiday on December 26 are popular occasions for visiting
relatives and friends.
is obligatory at home and
at work. The more so that everyone expects to find a
Christmas gift under it. And Krakow’s hand-painted glass
decorations are known worldwide. But watch out for mistletoe
hanging – now rarely – from the ceiling: those standing
under it cannot refuse a kiss.
are fabulous, colorful and glittering
portable theaters for the Nativity traditional puppet plays,
and building them remains a fairly popular hobby. At the
same time amateur and professional companies of players
stage the Nativity live shows in the holiday season. And
seeing the Nativity various scenes in numerous Krakow
churches also is a popular family activity.
and there are hundreds of them, often
centuries-old, apart from sweet lullabies rely largely on
traditional dancing tunes, so no wonder they sound pretty
wafers are wallet-size, paper-thin and
crisp leafs of bread, white or colored, with an impression
of the Nativity scene. In Poland before the Christmas Eve
dinner those present approach one another with an ‘oplatek’
wafer in hand and offer wishes. When approached everybody
listens to wishes, says wishes in return, breaks off a bit
from the other guy’s wafer, eats it, and kisses him or her
on both cheeks.
‘Oplatek’ also means popular
December and January social gatherings in Poland where
invited guests, even perfect strangers, practice the ritual
among themselves in addition to regular cocktail-party
socializing. And it is usual to visit friends and family
before or over the Christmastide to share the ‘oplatek’
wafer with them and exchange wishes.
‘Kolednicy’ carol singers
still go from door to door in the holiday season but
nowadays schoolchildren (for their efforts they expect small
change rather than sweets) replaced expert adult performers
Krakow's Christmas market
takes place on the
Rynek Glowny central square
from the end of November through December 26th.
Hardly a month passes in Krakow without some time-honored
occasion for common festivities or colorful celebration
Easter in Krakow
The paramount Christian feast has a special meaning and
a distinct quality in springtime Krakow with its rich Catholic
traditions and abundance of beautiful churches.
Krakow region has always been rich in colorful folk traditions,
handed down from generation to generation.
Events in Krakow
Updates on upcoming