Many people in Poland celebrate Epiphany (Trzech Króli), an annual national holiday on January 6, to mark when the three wise men, or kings, visited baby Jesus.
Is Epiphany a Public Holiday?
Epiphany is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
What Do People Do?
Epiphany is a big celebration in many places in Poland, featuring street parades, caroling of songs, and reenactments of the Nativity scene. The street parades usually involve a procession of the 3 wise men who give people candy and small treats in some towns and cities. Local parish priests preach about the significance of Epiphany and many houses are blessed. Some people place above their doors 3 small boxes, each containing water, incense, and chalk in memory of the wise kings’ gifts to Jesus.
Epiphany is a national public holiday in Poland, so schools, banks, government offices and most private businesses are closed. There is a trade prohibition on public holidays in Poland. People intending to travel via public transport during public holidays must check with the public transit authorities on any changes to time schedules.
Epiphany is a Christian feast that commemorates both the three wise kings’ visit to infant Jesus as well as Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River. Epiphany was a holiday that was cancelled during the Communist regime in Poland, but it was restored as an official public holiday across the country in 2011. It is celebrated in many other countries worldwide.
The 3 boxes containing water, incense and chalk are usually marked with the letters K, M, and B and crosses after each letter to symbolize the three kings – Kacper, Melchior and Baltazar – who visited Jesus.