Being that Zakopane is often thought of as the winter capital of the world, it only makes sense that the holiday season is filled with Christmas related festivities galore. Polish culture in general is known for its celebration of the holiday, and Zakopane is one of the best places to see exactly how much the holiday season is enjoyed. Not everybody may like to travel away from home during the holiday season, as holidays such as Christmas are often celebrated with families, but if there was a place to go for the holidays then Zakopane Poland is it for sure.
Poland celebrates Christmas a bit different than do Western nations, but still there are many similarities. In Poland there is a Santa Claus that “visits” during the holiday season, but it is not on Christmas Eve that his visit takes place, but rather earlier, on the 6th of December. This particular date is the date of the Feast of St. Nichols, a celebration that is part of the Advent holiday. People in Poland also decorate Christmas trees, as well as their homes for the holiday season, a tradition that is well-known in western nations. All of these traditions are universal in many western and European nations, and these are the traditions that will make you feel at home while you are in Zakopane for the holiday season.
In addition to having some of the same traditions, though, Polish culture also has some unique beliefs that are associated with the holiday season. One of these beliefs is that every Christmas Eve animals suddenly transform and are able, for that one night, to speak. It is also believed in Polish culture that Christmas is a time when past grudges should be forgotten, as Christmas is a time for forgiving. Another “belief” that has become part of Polish culture is the belief that the first person to visit your home on Christmas morning is the predictor of your future. It is said that if the first visitor is a woman you will be brought misfortune, and the opposite if your first visitor ends up being a man. It is beliefs such as these that define the culture of a country. These are the things that all true travelers seek out when they are in someplace new, because such traditions are the only way to really learn about those that are different than me or you. When it comes to the holiday traditions in Poland, Zakopane is one of the best places to be. And while you are celebrating the holiday in Zakopane by immersing yourself in age old tradition and holiday celebrations, there are a few activities and traditions that you will want to add to your list in order to make the holiday totally complete.
- The Christmas Eve Feast – Unlike Western countries, which usually enjoy their Christmas feast on Christmas day, in Poland it is actually the Christmas Eve feast. The feast that you will find you are being served on Christmas Eve during your stay in Zakopane will be considerably different than what you are used to if you are not from Poland, but it will be delicious all the same. As opposed to the traditional ham you will most likely find that fish is often served instead, and instead of potatoes you will likely be served pierogi, but the idea behind the feast is all the same, which is to spend some quality time with your family.
- Take a Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride – Horse drawn sleigh rides are given all through the winter season in Zakopane, but there is no better time to take one than during the holiday season. There is almost always a plentiful amount of fluffy snow to enhance your ride, and the sights to see along the way make the whole tip worthwhile. Not only will you get to enjoy the natural surroundings that you can enjoy anytime of the year, although they are something entirely different during the winter months, but you will also be able to ride along and enjoy all the sights to see that are only there during the holiday season. One thing is for sure, and that is that this is definitely not your New York City horse drawn sleigh ride.
- The Decorations Along Krupowki Street – Finally, one of the most enjoyable things to do in Zakopane during the Christmas season is taking in the sights of Krupowki Street. The restaurants and shops along the way, in addition to the streets themselves, are adorned with everything that twinkles and more. The vibe that you can feel in the air when you walk down Krupowki Street is Christmas all the way for sure, and if you step into those shops and restaurants you will discover that there is even more. Krupowki Street is the perfect place to shop for that special gift for that special someone, and it is also the perfect place to enjoy your Christmas Eve feast dinner if you do not have family or friends in Zakopane. Anyone who has ever spent their life growing up with the traditional Christmas celebrations that you see in western and European countries knows that these are the things that truly make the Christmas season so special, and when you spend your holiday in Zakopane this is something that you will not be missing out on.
It is never easy making the decision as to whether or not you want to spend the Christmas holiday away from home, as holidays are always something special when they are spent with your family. But that is not to say that you can’t spend your holiday with your family in Zakopane. There are plenty of options for catering to larger families, and a vacation and a holiday in one with the family is something that we only get to experience rarely. You can be sure that if this is what you decide to do, you will surely not be missing out on anything in regards to holiday tradition and cheer during the holiday season.