We were at a Christmas event with our Polish colleagues when the BIG event happened ~ Santa arriving to give presents to the children ~ when one of our Polish colleagues leaned over and said, “you know, in Poland Santa visits the children twice. And he brings presents both times.”
Santa visits twice?
Twice?! I remember as a kid being so excited about Santa’s visit that I thought I would explode. I can only imagine how excited I would’ve been for two visits from Santa. Fortunately for my parents, in America Santa only visits once.
When does Santa visit in Poland?
Santa’s first visit is on St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6th; his second is on Christmas Eve, as expected. Santa may be finished with his work on Christmas Eve, but the Poles continue celebrating on Dec. 25th and 26th.
Poles are very family oriented, so is anyone ever “Home Alone” for Christmas?
Apparently, they are. But in this case, I don’t mean “home alone” literally, rather I’m talking about the movie, Home Alone, the 1990 movie with Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister (the Polish title is Kevin Sam w Domu, or literally, Kevin Alone in the House). This movie is a perennial holiday favorite in Poland.
Of all the holiday movies ever made, why is Home Alone so popular?
The movie was released at the end of Poland’s communist era and plucky little Kevin’s (Macaulay) brave stand against Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s bumbling thieves resonated with Poles. Also, this movie provided a good look at the material wealth available in the West. For years this movie has consistently been a Christmas favorite.
A few holiday words in Polish
Learning a few words in the local language is useful and, more importantly, it’s fun. Poles seem to be by their nature very reserved with people they don’t know, but wish the grocery store cashier a “Wesołych Świąt” and you’ll get a smile in return.
Wesołych Świąt and other holiday words
- The short way to say “Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas” is “Wesołych Świąt.”
- The complete way to say “Merry Christmas” is “Wesołych Świąt Boże Narodzenie.” Boże Narodzenie literally means “God’s birth.”
- “We wish you a Merry Christmas” is “Życzymy Wesołych Świąt.”
- “Santa Claus” is “Święty Mikołaj”
- “Christmas tree” is “choinki.”
- “Christmas Market” is “Jarmark Bożonarodzeniowy.”
- “Socks” are “skarpety.”
- “Christmas shopping” is “zakupy świąteczne.”
- “Christmas presents” are “prezenty świąteczne.”
- “Happy New Year” is “Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku.” The short version is “Nowy Rok!”
We hope you have finished your zakupy świąteczne, the prezenty świąteczne are wrapped under your fully decorated choinki and your skarpety are hung on the mantle with care. And if you happen to chance upon a rerun of Home Alone, please wish everyone a Wesołych Świąt and a Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!
These Polish folks are onto something. Any celebration that includes in a pile of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk deserves to be recognized as frequently as possible. I’m only disappointed that it hasn’t caught in the US.
Betsy A. says
St Nick came to our house on Dec 6th as well, when I was a kid, and even a couple of times when my boys were children. We put out a shoe by the door for St. Nicholas and he left presents in them. Ryan and I have read about Germany’s Christmas Markets also; they all sound very festive! Some day we would like to go experience them!
Interesting. I hadn’t heard about Santa’s Dec. 6th trips until we moved here. We’ve read about Germany’s Christmas markets, too, and we’re looking forward to visiting them. I think we read that Berlin has around 50(!) individual Crhristmas markets.