Raindrops tapping into the plastic windowsill and last dry leaves, roughly hanging on trees, swishing afar of, bring us back to life every evening. People rapidly passing through streets, running away from everyday life. A cup of hot tea and hibernation seem to be the only reasonable choice for a cold, November evening. On the verge of this month, more specifically - during the night of 29th to 30th of November, in our country the stage of primaeval beliefs and Slavic customs unveils.
Polish people, cynical on a daily basis towards the world of augury on this day try to reveal their fate from putting shoes in order or from shapes of wax. This night is the last opportunity for festive celebrations, before Advent begins, which is the period before Christmas that in catholic faith is characterized by reflection and joyful awaiting the birth of Jesus.
The night of 29th to 30th of November is the eve of st. Andrew's day, from which comes the name of the holiday.
According to past beliefs, this night was always accompanied by the aura of mystery, and augury, especially those concerning love gain special force.
It is suspected that St. Andrew's Day's augury has its origin in ancient Greece. The etymology of name Andrew (greek - Andress) that comes from Grece (gr. andros - man; aner - man, husband) may be the proof of Greek roots of st. Andrew's Day.
It is said that late-November prophecies originate from late Celtic and ancient Greek traditions.
First mentions of polish St. Andrew's Day come from the year 1557 when Marcin Bielecki - a renaissance poet, writer, and translator described the augury customs in his play "The Comedy of Justin and Constance".
In the past, only unwedded ladies were allowed to take part in the evening of presages. At present, everyone can enjoy the night full of st. Andrew’s day augury, regardless of their sex or marital status.
Among the best-known prophecies are:
- pouring melted wax through the hole in the key - obtained figurine may be ambiguously interpreted i.e. angel presages good news, fish - money, etc.
- “shoe prophecy” - from the furthermost corner of the room, we envelop a rope to reach the door. Along this line, all present girls set their left shoe. The last shoe is moved to the beginning and so on;) Woman whose footwear crosses the threshold first is going to be first to get married.
- magical apple peel - the task is to achieve as long peel as possible and throwing it behind one’s left shoulder. A shape that it rests at again on the floor will be the first letter of girl’s lover’s name given by fortune
- St. Andrew's Day heart - out of pieces of paper we cut out a heart. On one side of it, we write male names, on the other females. Depended on who takes part in the game, the heart is turned to the appropriate side. Pierced by us word is the name of our bride or groom-to-be
The list of auguries and prophecies, that we can take part in on the night of 29th to 30th of November is very long and varies based on the region of Poland you’re in.
Sharing the customs can be an opportunity not only of exquisite fun but also for experiencing unique primeval Slavic beliefs that come from mysterious sources. St. Andrew’s day games and evenings full of augury are organized in numerous places throughout the whole of Poland, some decide even to hold them at their own humble abode. Undoubtedly they are worth taking part in, in order to literally and figuratively feel the Slavic magic.