Andrzej is Polish for Andrew – the patron saint of Scotland, Greece and Russia, among the others. In Poland it is believed that St Andrew can advise young unmarried women about the choice of their future husband. This tradition has now expanded to single men as well – everybody wants to see who they are going to marry. And it is thought that the eve of St Andrew’s Day is full of magic, which makes it easier to peek into your future.
It is also worth remembering that Andrzej is still one of the most popular names in Poland. With the old tradition of celebrating name days (imieniny), St Andrew’s Day remains a perfect opportunity for getting together with a group of friends. In the past, when the period of pre-Christmas fasting was strictly observed, it was the last chance for a more joyous celebration.
The holiday Andrzejki is celebrated on the eve of St Andrew’s Day, November 30th, so the main festivities usually come on November 29th and are prolonged until well after midnight. However, nowadays Andrzejki-themed parties can be thrown during the weekend before or after the actual holiday, if St Andrew’s Day falls in the middle of the week.
Here comes the fun. A lot of these Polish traditions come from pagan times and now have been incorporated into annual celebrations. Do not be surprised, when somebody at the party starts…
- Pouring hot wax through an old key's hole into cold water. This one is a classic. The shape formed by the wax from a candle is supposed to represent something that will happen to you in the upcoming year. For instance, if you see something resembling a car – you can expect that you will get one. Sometimes, when the shape is particularly hard to guess, try seeing what shadow it throws on the wall.
- Lining up the shoes from the wall up to the front door. This is a girls-only activity. The woman, whose shoe reaches the door first, will obviously be the first one to marry.
- Piercing a card with names on the back. People taking part in this fortune-telling game write female and male names on two separate cards. Girls and boys are asked to stick the needle into the paper from the other side, so that they cannot see what is written there. The little hole in the paper shows you the name of your future spouse.
- Tossing apple skins. This is also a "no boys allowed" fun thing to do on St Andrew's Eve. Girls are asked to peel the skins from apples and then toss them over their shoulders. When examined, the peels often resemble a letter, which indicates the first letter of their future husband's name.
These Polish traditions are most likely to occur during the party you are attending. Remember not to take everything too seriously and have a good time with your Polish friends. Alternatively, you can try to organise a similar event with fortune-telling and wax-pouring yourself. Invite your co-workers and see what the future holds! But if you feel that your curiosity has not been satisfied… Why not try to remember who appeared in your dream that night? This is the person who is going to steal your heart this year!