Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
In Poland most of the people are named after saints. As every saint has its own day in Catholic calendar, so do the Poles celebrate their nameday. In some of the regions of the country nameday is still more popular than birthday. It is usually celebrated similarly - as the opportunitu to meet friends and relations. A big table is prepared at home (bending under the loads of food: cold cuts, cakes etc.) and a lot of vodka is served. As the nameday is especially celebrated by older generation (and there are are names that were especially popular during their childhood), on some namedays - such as St Joseph or St Maria's - you can see many people buy flowers.
Some names can be celebrated couple times a year. But Saint Barbara's Day is celebrated inly once - on the 4th of December each year. As saint Barbara is the patron of miners, this day is specially celebrated by them. Silesia region (where most of the mines are situated) organizes the feast so as to cherish their patron and profession. That day and celebration is called Barborka (or Barburka).
Traditional Barborka starts with the service that takes place either in a church or in the hall of the mine, next to the monument of Saint Barbara. The day, however, consists of various events - concerts, artistic events and balls in which whole families of miners take part. Mining Orchestra marches (playing the hymn of the miners) through the neighbourhoods inhabited by the miners and their families, as well as the leadership of the mine.
During the days preceding St Barbara's Feast so called 'Beer Inns' are organized. People that take part in them are miners and those connected with mining - retired miners, employees of companies cooperating with mines, univerisity scholars of mining departments and their students. The 'Beer Inn' contestants are divided into 2 groups sitting along separate tables, divided into age groups (younger and older), and competing between each other. They answer the questions and earn points, with the accompany of songs, jokes etc. Presents, connected with funny situations that happened since the last feast, are being given throughout the evening.
During Barborka feast it is obligatory for miners to get dressed in their official mining uniform. They are even punished in case the uniform is not well completed or misses any small detail.
Barbara is only one of many popular names in Poland. But it has one of few namedays that are so widely celebrated in whole country.