Saturday 30 March 2024

Majority of Poles – even non-churchgoers – take part in Easter traditions, finds poll

A large majority of Poles practice Easter traditions, including over half of those who never go to church, new polling has found.

State research agency CBOS surveyed Poles on their attitudes towards Easter, which falls this weekend, as well as the ways in which they celebrate the festival.

It found that 86% take part in the tradition of blessing a basket of food in church on Holy Saturday (down from 95% in 1998, when the question was first asked). 

An even higher proportion, 89%, said that they join in the sharing of blessed eggs with loved ones.

Meanwhile, 70% join the blessing of palms on Palm Sunday (down from 86% in 1998) and 72% fast on Good Friday. 

Such fasting involves eating no meat and limiting oneself to one full meal and two modest meals during the day.

CBOS notes that, even among respondents who said that they never go to church, 27% fast on Good Friday. Among those same non-churchgoers, over half said that they practice some form of Easter tradition.

Among all respondents, 53% attend Easter confession, 49% take part in the tradition of sprinkling ashes on their heads on Ash Wednesday, 48% participate in the Paschal Triduum (a three-day liturgical celebration between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday), and 41% join retreats during Lent.

Participation in such religious practices is higher among women than men, among those with lower levels of education, among older age groups, and among those who live outside large towns and cities.

Meanwhile, 69% of Poles say that they take part in the tradition of Śmigus-dyngus, during which boys throw water at girls on Easter Monday (often called Wet Monday, Lany Poniedziałek, in Poland).

Asked how they perceive Easter, 65% of Poles see it as a family holiday, 39% as a religious experience (down 5 percentage points since 2022), 41% as a nice tradition, and 15% as a break from work and time to rest (respondents could choose up to two answers).

Other polling in recent years has shown that Poles are becoming increasingly detached from the Catholic church, which has faced criticism over its handling of child sex abuse cases and for its involvement in pushing for an unpopular near-total ban on abortion.

However, surveys also show that a significant majority of Poles still describe themselves as religious believers: 84% in a CBOS survey carried out in 2022.