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Barbara Rolek

The Tradition of Polish Name Day

By December 4, 2012

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Dec. 4 is celebrated as the feast day of St. Barbara among Christians worldwide and, as such, it is my name day or imieniny in Polish. Instead of celebrating the actual date of birth (urodziny), many Slavs and other Europeans celebrate the saint for whom the child was named.

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St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners and, in Poland, this day is known as Barbórka or Barburka by some. On this day, miners dress in special black suits with a hat festooned with a plume of white, red or black feathers, denoting the rank of the miner. Miners wear their uniforms not only during Barbórka but also for weddings, funerals and other important political or social ceremonies. It sounds a bit like the Knights of Columbus in the States to me!

Barbórka is a holiday from work in most Polish mining regions and a time for galas and other festivities, such as the big ball that takes place each year in Kraków's University of Mining and Metallurgy.

Barbórka is celebrated not only in Poland but also in other countries with a strong mining tradition such as the Czech Republic and Germany where the celebration is known as Barbarafeier. Read more about St. Barbara, the Patron Saint of Miners. And read about the German custom of Barbara Branch or Barbarazweig.

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