Andrzejki – St. Andrew’s Eve, November 29th

For several hundred years now girls in Poland have foretold their future as regards to love and marriage on St. Andrew’s Eve. The ancient custom of girls’ divination night was described by the chronicler Marcin Bielski in his 16th century play entitled Justyn and Konstancja, where it was called as it is still today ”andrzejki”.

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St. Andrew’s divination has multiple forms. Dreams are very important too. A dream dreamt that night might show you beloved, especially if male garment was put under your sheet.

The night before andrzejki girls wrote lots of male names on pieces of paper and put them under their pillows. First thing in the morning they drew one to get to know their future husband’s name.

Various objects were used as divination accessories, for instance pickets in a fence, rungs of a ladder, steps of stairs or chips of wood brought to the house as fuel, etc. Girls counted them and if the number was even, they believed they would get married.

The best known and most frequently performed form of divination was pouring molten wax or lead into cold water. When it solidified into a hard mass, the shape of it or its shadow cast on the wall was examined and interpreted together. 

Wax and lead have been used in divination and other magical practices for centuries. No wonder they were also adopted to girls’ fortune telling. Their imagination and strong desire to learn about their future made them see the wax shape as the figure of their beloved and some attributes of his profession.

Although they are not treated as serious these days as they were in the past, St. Andrew’s Night divinations have been preserved at a tradition turned into a funny game by girls and boys. In the past boys were not allowed to take part in girls’ meetings and St. Andrew’s Night. They had their own evening of fortune telling in matter of love and marriage on November 24th, the Eve of St. Catherine’s Day (Wigilia Świętej Katarzyny). But this tradition disappeared in the early 20th century.

 

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