St. Andrew’s Eve is one of the most popular superstitious holidays celebrated in many European countries as an opportunity to party and participate in fortune-telling. Where did this holiday come from and how exactly is it celebrated?
First of all, let’s begin with a brief definition of the holiday itself: The 30th of November is St. Andrew’s Day, which is the feast day of Andrew The Apostle. As he is the patron saint of Scotland and Romania, it is an official national holiday in both of these countries. Both in Scotland and Romania there are a lot of celebrations around the day involving traditional food and music as well as parades in towns.
Surprisingly, what turned out to be a much bigger success in other European countries is the St. Andrew’s Eve happening (as you can guess) on the 29th of November. The origins of this holiday remain mostly unknown, however they are said to date back to the 17th century. Ever since then the St. Andrew’s Eve (in Polish: ‘Andrzejki’) have been widely celebrated in Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Russia. This phenomenon was created due to a superstitious belief that the night before St. Andrew’s Day is the best night for magic to reveal a young woman’s future husband.
Initially, ‘Andrzejki’ was honoured in a very serious and matrimonial tone. The fortune-telling would take place individually in an isolated place – a married older woman would tell a young single girl when and who she will get married to. She would do so by pouring hot wax from a candle through the hole of a key into cold water, which would show her an outline of the girl’s future. Afterwards, the girl would pray to Saint Andrew for hours until falling asleep, which was believed to increase her chances of seeing her future husband in her sleep.
Since the 19th/20th century, however, the ‘Andrzejki’ celebrations have turned into collective experiences and parties for both women and men, regardless of their age and marital status. The 29th of November is a good opportunity for groups of friends to organise parties and play some fortune-telling games. Here are some of the most well-known fortune-telling celebrations:
- The aforementioned wax game is still the main and most popular tradition, which lets people see certain shapes or letters created by the wax in the water!
- A group of girls put their shoes in a straight line from one wall to another across the whole room – the shoe that touches the second wall means its owner will get married first!
- All the girls write their names on one piece of paper and all boys do the same on another one. Then a girl/a boy turns the piece of paper full of names backwards and pierces it with a needle – the name that she/he happens to pierce a hole through will be their future husband/wife!
- Every single person takes an apple and tries to peel it all in one go (so that its skin stays all in one piece). Then everyone throws their apple skins over their shoulder and tries to read the initials of their future husband/wife from the way the apple skins landed on the floor!
Author: Wiktoria Lewandowska