Figures from the Central Statistical Office show that 50.9 % of marriages in Poland in 2022 were concluded in a temple. At the beginning of the 21st century, religious marriages (i.e. marriages concluded in a church but with civil effect) accounted for more than 70 % of all weddings.
Throughout the first two decades of the 21st century, the share of religious marriages in the total number of marriages admittedly shrank, but very slowly. The bump occurred in 2020, i.e. during the pandemic.
“It became an important caesura not only for religious marriages, but also for religiosity in general. Not because it has fundamentally changed anything, but because it has become a catalyst for many of the processes that are responsible for the move away from religious practice”, says Dr Radosław Tyrała, sociologist of religion at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow.
In Poland, the number of marriages in general is declining, among others due to the changing attitude to this institution in society, as well as the shrinking number of successive generations entering the matrimonial market.
The GUS collects data on marriages down to the county level. Significant differences can be seen here between different parts of the country, e.g. in the Limanowa district (Małopolskie voivodeship), religious marriages accounted for 81.8 %, while in Jelenia Góra it was only 17.5 %.
Dr Tyrała adds that the values for marriages coincide with the census results, specifically the section on religious affiliation. As a rule, it is weaker in the west and stronger in the east.
The Central Statistical Office has been collecting this data for more than two decades – religious marriages with civil-legal effects can be concluded in Poland since November 1998. This allows to see how their share has changed at the local level over this time. It might seem that the percentage has been falling more or less evenly across the country; however, that is not true. In the west of the country, the change is occurring much faster than in the east.