Corpus Christi is a Catholic holiday celebrating the Blood and Body of Christ. Since Poland is majority Catholic, most stores and eateries in the country are closed for this very popular day. As a participant in SRAS’ study abroad programs in Warsaw, I was given the opportunity to spend the day with my peers to travel to the small town of Lowicz and witness how traditional Poles celebrate Christ on the holiday of Corpus Christi.
Train tickets were provided by the school; it took about an hour to get there. When we arrived, Mass proceedings were already underway. People lined the streets to watch and pray. It was humbling to see this many people take a break from their day-to-day lives to pay homage to their Savior.
After the church procession, the whole town becomes alive with dancing, eating, and shopping. Most retail stores were closed, but the stands selling homemade goods made up for it. Each stand had something different to offer: scarves and other traditional dress, jewelry including the popular amber, glass and dishware, and paintings highlighting the beauty that Poland has to offer. Everything is handmade and usually is sold by the owner him/herself, so some things were a little more expensive than retailed goods. Luckily, most wares in Poland are typically less expensive than those in the United States, so buying a beautifully hand-painted coffee mug didn’t break my bank.
The food in the town is a big range from traditional Polish food to pizzerias. Many ice cream stores and cafes line the streets, offering plenty of choices. Since Lowicz is a fair distance outside the capital of Warsaw, the food was less expensive as well. For example, a beer in Warsaw would cost 8zl but in Lowicz we found it to cost 5zl. These small discounts occur regularly, and it makes traveling and experiencing different areas of the country a little less stressful on your wallet.
Singers, dancers, and musical artists dressed in traditional Polish clothing put on a show for everyone to see, on a big stage set up in the middle of the town square.
It is refreshing and exciting to get out of the metropolitan capital and experience more traditional Polish customs. Being out in the sun, walking the uneven cobblestones, having new activities and a general feeling of happiness and goodwill all around, really showcased the pride Polish people feel about their home and their traditions.
Going home, the train ride was a bit longer, taking an hour and a half, due to longer and more frequent stops. No one seemed to mind the extra time as we took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy conversation about our experiences, in the casual setting outside of the classroom. For me personally, this day allowed me to make connections with some of my peers that will enhance the rest of my wonderful trip to Poland.