‘Which horoscope sign are you?’ The most common question you can hear after talking for 5 minutes with Italians. What is even more interesting, is that you can expect this question not only from girls (that seems to be normal everywhere) but also from Italian men. I do not know any Polish men that would show curiosity towards horoscopes.
It does not mean that we do not believe in anything else that is not related to Catholicism (or to any other of the common religions in Poland). So, what do people from the 2nd most religious country in Europe believe in? Except from horoscopes, which you can find in almost every magazine or on every Polish web portal, we also practice some pagan traditions. They come from the medieval period, before Poland was baptized by our Czech friends in 966.
We even have one day especially dedicated to magic, which is on the eve of St. Andrew’s Day, November 29th. Celebrated in Poland as “Andrzejki”, this is a day when your future husband or wife can be revealed. Many house parties are organized on that day, as the holiday is popular especially among young people. Fortune-telling made during the party may vary depending on the region of the country. Nevertheless, there is one which is well known in the whole of Poland. You pour hot wax into water through the hole one the end of an old-fashioned key and then you can read your future from the wax-shape that is created.
Most of these folk-beliefs are of a pagan background, even if they are celebrated on the day of “Saint-whoever” from the catholic religion. Like many old traditions, they are most popular in villages or among children. I remember being in kindergarten on the 21st March. We celebrated the end of winter and beginning of spring by sinking a doll representing Marzanna in the river. Marzanna is a goddess of death and winter. We made the doll from old grass and small tree branches and wrap it in some cloths. Then, the whole kindergarten marched to the river, where we burned the doll and threw it into the water. It was an unforgettable experience, especially if, as 5-year-old child, you believe that this doll will travel through different towns and villages, before eventually reaching the Baltic Sea, making spring really happen.
There are many customs all around the world that mix with traditional Polish beliefs. Even if we are too busy with our work, studies and problems of everyday life, maybe it is good to stop for a while sometimes? Take a look for the stars and find your horoscope sign in the dark sky. Just as the Romans were doing thousands of years ago, thinking towards the future.