13 public holidays and religious feasts (which are non-working days) are celebrated in Poland. Most public institutions, banks and shopping centres are closed on these days. However, you may find some smaller shops in the neighbourhood, which will be open.

In bigger Polish cities, like Warsaw, Cracow, Gdańsk, Wrocław or Poznań public holidays are generally observed in the same way.

Special days (marked green) such as Grandmother’s Day (21 January), Grandfather’s Day (22 January), Women’s Day (8 March), Men’s Day (10 March), Mother’s Day (26 May), Children’s Day (1 June) and Father’s Day (23 June) are normal working days and are celebrated in family circles. Among other observances, Miner’s Day (called Barbórka) is worth mentioning, as it is a very important celebration in Silesia (4 December).

Below we list and describe the most important public holidays and observances in Poland in 2016:

Public holidays in Poland 2016
Date Holiday
Jan. 1st (Fri) New Year’s Day (Nowy Rok)
Jan. 6th (Wed) Epiphany (Trzech Króli) wikipedia
Jan. 21st (Thu) Grandmother’s Day (Dzień Babci)
Jan. 22st (Fri) Grandfather’s Day (Dzień Dziadka)
Mar. 8th (Tue) Women’s Day (Dzień Kobiet) wikipedia
Mar. 27th (Sun) Easter Sunday (Wielkanoc)
Mar. 28st (Mon) Easter Monday (Śmigus Dyngus)
May 1st (Sun) Labour Day (Święto Pracy)
May 3rd (Tue) Constitution Day (Konstytucji 3. Maja)
May 15th (Sun) Pentecost Sunday (Zielone Świątki)
May 26th (Thu) Corpus Christi (Boże Ciało) wikipedia
May 26th (Thu) Mother’s Day (Dzień Matki)
Jun. 1st (Wed) Children’s Day (Dzień Dziecka)
Jun. 23rd (Thu) Father’s Day (Dzień Ojca)
Aug. 15th (Mon) Assumption (Wniebowzięcie)
Nov. 1st (Tue) All Saints’ Day (Wszystkich Świętych)
Nov. 11th (Fri) Independence Day (Dzień Niepodległości)
Dec. 25th (Sun) Christmas Day (Boże Narodzenie)
Dec. 26th (Mon) Boxing Day (Św. Szczepana)

Should a public holiday fall on Saturday an employee is entitled to an extra day off. The public holiday is observed on a normal working day mutually agreed between employer and employee. In 2016 there are no public holidays which fall on a Saturday. If the holiday falls on a Sunday employees are not entitled to an additional non-working day. Always consult an HR representative to confirm how it works at your company.

Fat Thursday • February 4th

image fat Thursday doughnuts and angel wings

Mmmm doughnuts.

Fat Thursday is the last Thursday before Lent, the last opportunity to gorge oneself before the 40-day fast leading up to Easter.

For Polish people Fat Thursday means basically one thing – doughnuts (pączki)! That is why every pastry shop in the country opens early in the morning after an all-night marathon of doughnut frying to serve dozens of customers already queuing outside. Millions of doughnuts are sold and consumed every year. Traditionally, they are filled with wild rose marmalade, but many other flavours (e.g. toffee) are available as well nowadays. Another popular Fat Thursday delicacy are angel wings (faworki or chrusty), fried strips of crispy pastry dough with powdered sugar.

According to an old superstition, woe betide the one who doesn’t eat a doughnut on Fat Thursday!

Constitution Day • May 3rd

The Constitution Day celebrates the declaration of the Constitution of May 3, 1791, considered to be the first constitution of its type in Europe and the second oldest constitution in the world (after the American, and before the French).

The document was designed to deal with anarchy fostered by some Polish magnates, and create a more democratic constitutional monarchy in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the declaration of the May 3rd Constitution lead to the Second Partition of Poland in 1792, the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794 and the final, Third Partition of Poland, in 1795, so it was in force for only 14 months. Ignacy Potocki and Hugo Kołłątaj, the Constitution co-authors, admitted that it was “the last will and testament of the expiring Fatherland.”

For 123 years, until 1918, the memory of the Constitution kept Polish aspirations for independence alive. To this day it is viewed as a national symbol, and as one of the most important civil holidays in Poland. Many parades, exhibitions, concerts and public figure speeches are observed on the Constitution Day every year.

Assumption • August 15th

According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”. The Assumption is seen by Catholic and Orthodox Christians as Virgin Mary’s heavenly birthday and a symbol that they will also be received in paradise.

In Poland, it is a public holiday, also called Matki Boskiej Zielnej, celebrated with due ceremony, especially in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (Małopolskie voivodship) where the Dormition and Assumption of Virgin Mary are staged. Also in the south of Poland, pilgrimages from all over the country arrive at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa to celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. Almost 150,000 people come on foot to join the festivities every year.

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