Corpus Christi – religious and bank holiday in Poland

by Ewelina Nurczyk in: Living in Poland, 24 May 2016     0 Comments

This Thursday you will see thousands of people in the streets across Poland. Let us answer your questions before you even ask them – it is Corpus Christi celebrations, a religious holiday with a long-standing tradition in Polish culture.

Flower petals scattered by schoolgirls during the procession

Flower petals scattered by schoolgirls during the procession

The streets are full of people, not only in small towns, but also in big cities. If it is Thursday, 60 days after the Easter Sunday, it is most likely that you are witnessing Corpus Christi – a Catholic moveable feast commemorating the Transubstitution, one of the pillars of this Christian church. It has a long tradition, but nowadays not many countries observe it as a public holiday. Polish people are among few nations (along with Austria, Croatia, parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, and Spain, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Portugal, San Marino and Switzerland) that get a day off to take part in the celebrations.

The usual programme consists of Holy Mass and a procession afterwards. It is the focal point of the day and while you may not celebrate Corpus Christi, you are likely to be affected by it. The procession, taking about an hour, starts at different times, depending on the local church. Usually it takes place around noon. The procession starts with a priest carrying a monstrance under a canopy. The faithful follow him, singing religious hymns, while young girls dressed in white scatter flower petals along the route. If you join the procession, you may notice that some people decide to decorated their windows or balconies as well, in order to take part in the special day, and some groups of parishioners may be dressed in folk costumes. The whole procession makes for an unusual sight if you come from a country where displaying religion in public is not very common. 

Do you need more ideas for the remaining days of the long weekend?
How about biking?

Since Corpus Christi always falls on Thursdays, it opens the possibility for a long weekend. If you decide to go to the countryside, your nearest lake or mountains, be careful with the traffic. Due to the processions, some roads may be blocked for a few hours and you may need to find a different route. As it is a bank holiday, please remember as well that most shops and supermarkets will be closed, and only some small private businesses will be in operation. Bars and restaurants should not be affected by the holiday either.

No matter what your plans are for this Thursday – whether you are going to take part in a procession, watch it from your window or go and relax outside your city – have a nice long weekend and more energy for work on Monday. 

See also

Celebrating May bank holidays – days off in Poland

May bank holidays in Poland

What are the celebrations connected to long May weekends in Poland? Find out how and why we celebrate them!
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Bicycles at work – biking mania in Poland

Bicycles at work in Poland

Cycling – it’s fun, healthy and gets you from one place to another in no time! See how employers make use of this hobby in their companies.
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Sunday shopping & trade ban

Sunday shopping ban

No more shopping on Sundays? Polish government introducing Sunday trading ban from March 2018 on.
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Ewelina Nurczyk

Ewelina Nurczyk


Contact the author

Editor at A graduate of English studies and Polish language and literature at Warsaw University, specialising in teaching Polish to foreigners. 

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