GV to host Polish festival

The department of modern languages and the Padnos International Center at Grand Valley State University will host the eighth annual Polish Andrzejki Festival to promote and celebrate Polish culture.

Anne Parada, a sophomore and vice president of the Polish Club at GVSU, said the Andrzejki Festival is usually held the night before Nov. 30, which is called St. Andrew’s day in Poland.

“St. Andrews day in Poland was traditionally a time when fortunes were told, especially those of young, unmarried girls to see if they could find out who their husband would be,” Parada said. “Just as fall symbolizes change, people turn to St. Andrew at this time of year to see how their fortunes may have changed.”

She added that students who attend will have the opportunity to “open their eyes to some of the traditions of a different culture.”

“It is a Polish tradition and one of the ways Poles can celebrate their traditions and pay homage to their ancestors, but one does not need a family connection to a country in order to appreciate its traditions,” Parada said.

Eva Lewak, GVSU professor of Polish and faculty adviser for the Polish Club, is coordinating the event this year. Lewak said the Andrzejki Festival is normally held in November, but this year she wanted to combine it with the American Halloween celebrations to make it “plenty of fun.”

Lewak said the event will feature magic, fortunetelling and Tarot card readings. It will also include traditional Polish food, music, games and cultural activities such as the melted wax divination. During this tradition, melted candle wax is cooled in a bowl of water then held up to a light to cast a shadow. The fortuneteller is then supposed to learn about an individual’s future from the shadow that is cast.

“We want to promote Polish language and Polish culture,” Lewak said. “These traditions have been alive for centuries.”

Lewak said the event is also a costume party and attendees can wear a Halloween costume to the festival if they want.

Although there is no major or minor in Polish, Lewak said students who take Polish courses still have advantages. She mentioned that knowledge of the Polish language can help enhance a resume and lead to more job opportunities after college.

Lewak said any students interested in the Polish language, history, culture and tradition should attend the event. Students can also enroll in Polish courses or consider studying abroad at the Cracow University of Economics.

Parada said members of the Polish Club, along with students enrolled in the Polish language courses, will be greeting people at the event and telling the participants about the festival traditions and activities.

“The main goal of our organization this year is to spread awareness of the Polish Club on campus,” Parada said.

The Polish Andrzejki Festival will take place tonight from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in 2270 Kirkhof Center.
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