Thanksgiving Traditions Around the World: Does Poland Celebrate?

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that holds a special place in American culture, as it’s considered the most family-oriented day on the calendar. The holiday’s origins can be traced back 400 years to a treaty between Europeans and Native Americans. Today, the most important tradition of Thanksgiving is to get together with your loved ones. This usually includes a meal of typical Thanksgiving dishes. A giant turkey is the star of the show, as we all have seen in many movies and TV series.

What Do People in Poland Know About Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day in Poland is known around the world as „Turkey Day” because of the close association between the bird and the holiday. We know that it’s a day that many Americans consider their second Christmas. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm with loved ones. In keeping with the theme of „Thanksgiving,” celebrations include preparing traditional foods, watching American football, praying together, and expressing gratitude for all that has been received and achieved in life. Americans take great pride in celebrating holidays. Thanksgiving is no exception.

Thanksgiving Day in Poland

You will be surprised, but most Polish people do not know that this day exists in our calendar.

The establishment of Thanksgiving in Poland dates back to 2008, when it was initiated by Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz. This holiday is a continuation of an initiative of the quadrennial Sejm, which decided to offer a special votive gift to God as a gesture of gratitude for the opportunity to adopt the Constitution of May 3.

↳ PRO TIP: Do you like traveling? Then before you buy any ticket or book an attraction, check if it's available in this worldwide Viator Database. You may save a lot of money and time. No need to thank me :)

The original plan was to build the Temple of the Supreme Providence. However, it couldn’t be realized because of the partitions. However, the construction of the temple began in 1918 after the regaining of Poland’s independence, but it was interrupted by the Second World War and the times of the Polish People’s Republic. The idea was revived by the Primate of Poland, Jozef Glemp, who was in charge of the implementation of the project.

Poland’s Thanksgiving Day Dates

Polish Thanksgiving is a recently established church holiday. It is celebrated on the first Sunday in June. Note: In 2023, this holiday is celebrated on June 4.

  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2023: June 4
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2024: June 2
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2025: June 1
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2026: June 7
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2027: June 6
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2028: June 4
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2029: June 3
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2030: June 2
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2031: June 1
  • Thanksgiving in Poland in 2032: June 6

How Is It Celebrated in Poland

It is not celebrated in the same way as in the U.S. As I said, in Poland most people do not know that it exists. However, there are celebrations organized by the church.

For example, last year’s program included a Thanksgiving pilgrimage, spiritual preparation, Thanksgiving Mass, presentation of relics, and a family game dedicated to Bl. Stefan Wyszyński and Elżbieta Róża Czacka. Other activities included a visit to the temple, the Pantheon of Great Poles, and the Moving Theatre of the 21st Century for Children, as well as film screenings, musical performances, and a holy mass followed by an evening of worship. The event ended with the illumination of the temple and the singing of „Barka” (a Polish religious song).

What The Church Says About the Thanksgiving Tradition

I found an interview with Dziennik (Polish magazine) in which Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz emphasizes the importance of being thankful for the good things that surround us. He encourages everyone to express their gratitude and recognize that we’re not self-sufficient, but dependent on others. According to the archbishop, gratitude protects us from being demanding and complaining, and this also applies to the state and society.

For example, expressing more gratitude for significant events, such as the contributions of John Paul II or the year 1989, can lead to less complaining and demanding. Some events in our lives or in the history of a nation can only be explained by the action of God’s providence. To express gratitude to God in a special way, a meeting will be held in the Temple of Divine Providence, which is currently under construction.

By the way, please check this article of mine, from which you will learn about some interesting autumn traditions in Poland. One of them for instance is folk dancing.

The History of Thanksgiving – Where Does It Come From?

To trace the roots of Thanksgiving, we must go back to the year 1621. The Pilgrims, who belonged to the Anglican Separatist Church, had fled England to escape religious persecution and landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Seeking a better life, they took advantage of London-funded pilgrimages to the „New World”.Unfortunately, the country did not welcome them warmly. More than half of them died during the first winter in their new home. In order to celebrate their survival and the first bountiful harvest, they organized a great feast to celebrate the harvest.

Historians disagree about when the first Thanksgiving was held, but 1621 is generally accepted. According to legend, the English colonists in Plymouth held a communal feast to thank God for their survival and a bountiful harvest. They invited their Native American friends, who had taught them how to survive in a foreign land. During the feast, they ate turkeys, corn, and squash that were unfamiliar to Europeans. The tradition of having a communal feast and a similar menu has been carried on to the present day.

Thanksgiving in America

Every year, on the fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, which they consider the most important family holiday, equivalent to Christmas Eve in Poland. Thanksgiving is not associated with any particular religion, unlike Christmas. Similar to our Polish harvest festival, the celebration includes decorating houses with bouquets of autumn flowers and grasses, and preparing decorative wicker baskets filled with fruits and vegetables.

The most recognizable feature of Thanksgiving Day is the roasted turkey, which is usually carved by the head of the household after it is roasted. This bird is as important to Americans as the traditional Christmas carp is to Poles. Each year in the United States, approximately 46 million turkeys are consumed on Thanksgiving Day, and for 95 percent of Americans, Thanksgiving is not complete without this dish.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, suggested that the turkey would be a better national symbol than the bald eagle and suggested that it be featured on the emblem. In addition to turkey, traditional Thanksgiving desserts include pumpkin pie and American apple pie, usually served with cider or punch.