Have you ever heard anything about Polish carnival? I bet not because it is indeed not very famous and cannot in any way be compared with those in Brazil, Venice, or Germany. We still do have and celebrate carnival in Poland, though.
Traditionally the carnival period in Poland starts with the New Year’s Eve and lasts until the Ash Wednesday. In the older times it was particularly celebrated by the gentry and it was a brilliant opportunity to present young unmarried women to the society in order to find husbands for them, of course. Noblemen would sometimes leave their residences for the whole period of carnival and move from ball to ball, from one hunting party to another, often on sledges as in those days there still used to be lots of snow in winter in Poland. So huge balls, sleigh rides, camp fires, hunting and fun in the snow, this is how it used to be.
Nowadays we have no gentry but some of the traditions remained. There are still some balls organized although not as big as the ones in the past. Sledge rides are also quite popular but there is no guarantee now that there will be enough snow for that on our chosen day. But mainly it is just another period of jolly and merry partying as every excuse is good to go out and have fun or stay in and drink.
Some special traditions are connected with the very end of the carnival period. Last Thursday in carnival is called Fat Thursday and we eat lots and lots of doughnuts then so forget your diet, there’s no chance for it in the last days of carnival in Poland. The last day of the carnival, the Tuesday is called Herring as this fish is often eaten then because it goes well with vodka:). We also eat sweets called faworki (deep-fried pastry ribbons) and chrust (crisp pastry fried in hot oil). So, generally speaking, last week of carnival in Poland is full of good food, drinking, dancing, and being loud and crazy before the peaceful and rather reflective period of Lent begins.