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New Year in Poland: Traditions and special dishes

New Year in Poland: Traditions and special dishes Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

In Poland, New Year is a big, bright, and joyful holiday. Poles gather for festive dinners at home or organize parties in the city.

Read more below about the traditions of celebrating the New Year in Poland, citing

New Year in Poland – a day in memory of Pope Sylvester I

Poles start decorating Christmas trees and houses way before Christmas, which is the main and most important winter holiday. New Year is merely an extension of these celebrations, although Poles do not miss the opportunity to have fun.

December 31 in Poland is referred to as Sylvester's Day, in memory of Pope Sylvester I, who died on this day in the 4th century. According to legend, this saint freed the world from the ancient serpent Leviathan. In another legend, the Pope cured Emperor Constantine of leprosy.

Unlike Christmas, New Year in Poland is not necessarily a family holiday. It is often celebrated with friends. Many choose to welcome the new year in the city center, clubs, restaurants, or at "Sylvester's Balls."

In Poland, Christmas is celebrated quietly, while New Year's Eve is a loud celebration with fireworks, mass festivities, dances, and musical shows. The tradition of sleigh rides pulled by horses still remains in rural areas.

Як відзначають Новий рік у Польщі: традиції та святкові страви

Photo: New Year's celebrations in Krakow (

New Year's Eve dishes in Poland

Poles usually make 12 dishes for the New Year's Eve. Christmas Eve includes lean dishes only, while New Year's night is a real feast. The main and unchanged dish on the festive table is goose or carp. If it's fish, then family members, according to tradition, may put fish scales in their wallets for prosperity in the coming year.

There is no mandatory menu for New Year. However, the table often features dishes such as mushroom soup, salads, bigos (hunter's stew), tartlets, meat and cheese platters, and chocolate cake. Additionally, a traditional treat on New Year's night is delicious honey and nut cookies called fafernuchy.

Champagne or a special New Year's mulled wine called grzaniec is a must as well.

Як відзначають Новий рік у Польщі: традиції та святкові страви

Photo: New Year's table (

What Poles give each other for New Year

Poles primarily exchange gifts with their loved ones during Christmas. New Year's gifts are not a necessity.

But for those who give gifts, choosing something beautiful and practical is customary. Women are often given stylish clothing, amber jewelry, or cosmetics. Certificates are also a common gift. Men may receive leather wallets, home slippers, or robes. Alternatively, handmade items are appreciated. Children receive toys and sweets.