29/30 November in Poland is the day of mysterious parties with the candles and future telling games, called Andrzejki – St Andrew Day. It is celebrated In Poland, like in many other countries, although it has a different meaning for us, as it took on a part of ancient Polish traditions and customs. The origin of Adrzejki, which is what we call it, is pagan but we applied a Catholic name to be more acceptable for Catholic society. For foreigners this day is a great occasion to experience ancient Polish customs and to fill up with food and drink.
There are hundreds of ideas of how to find out about the future, namely the marriage, lucky or unlucky love and prosperous or poor perspectives. The most spectacular is pouring liquid wax into water. The shape which formed as the wax solidified is then illuminated to throw it’s shadow on the wall. The shape of the shadow gives the opportunity for unlimited interpretation, which is fun for all participants.
Some of the most popular rituals during this special night are:
Pouring hot melted wax through a key into a bawl of cold water – hardened wax is held up to the light and the future is guessed from its shadow cast on the wall. The lights are usually off (except the light of the candle). It not only help to read from the shadow but also helps to keep an unusual atmosphere of this evening. The shape of the shadow is observed from different angles and the future of the girl (especially her marital future is guessed from it). In the past not a usual key was used to this ritual but a key from door in the church was the best.
Preparing pieces of paper with male first names on the edges of the bowl – the bowl is filled with water with a candle floating in the middle of the bowl. The first burn paper piece indicates the name of the future husband.
Three cups flipped upside down to cover marriage ring, small cross and a piece of green plant – girls are choosing one cup and it indicate their future fate- the ring of course signify the marriage, cross – life as a nun in monastery and the green plant is predicting the unmarried life. Sometimes the small doll was placed under the cap – a symbol of the illegitimate child.
Tossing the shoes – shoes of all the girls are arranged one after another along the wall and moved gradually in the same order to the door. The girl whose shoe would first cross the doorstep would be married first.
One more belief – try to remember your dream at St. Andrew night – if you would see a man in a dream – this might be your future husband; or look at the water reflection in well or in the mirror at midnight to see his face.