If you follow my blog regularly, you might have noticed already that this year I am spending Christmas in Poland which makes me incredibly happy. Aside from missing my family and being able to simply be with them, Christmas is just different here. I think the reason might be the amount of traditions we follow. Some are really old, some may seem quirky, but they are all very special and magical. I thought it would be fun to share them with you!
- Christmas Eve is believed to be the most important day and has a great significance. Some people say that the way the Christmas Eve is, the whole next year will be. That’s why you shouldn’t fight with anybody or you’ll fight with them all year and be especially careful not to get hurt or you may have health problems all next year.
- There are, however things you can do for good luck- putting a carp scale in your wallet will ensure wealth and adding silver coins to your bath on Christmas Eve will prevent your beauty from fading away.
- The most important moment in the whole day is a very festive dinner that starts when the first start shows up in the sky. It is usually children who are watching the sky waiting for it, only then everybody can sit at the table.
- The feast is meatless and (maybe surprisingly for Poles) no alcohol is served on Christmas Eve. 12 dishes are served becaue there are 12 apostles and 12 months. According to tradition you have to try all 12 of them (sic!) to bring health and happiness for each month of the New Year.
- Traditional dishes include barszcz with uszka (beet soup with ravioli with mushroom filling), pierogi with sauerkraut and mushrooms, kutia (sweet grain pudding), fish, especially carp and herring, kluski with poppyseed, gingerbread, compot.
- Bits of hay are being put under the tablecloth as a reminder that Jesus was born in a manger
- One of my personal favorite traditions is setting up an extra place by the Christmas table for a lonely wanderer or a deceased relative. It is also believed that ghosts are coming back to Earth on that day, that is why people are avoiding carrying sharp objects.
- We are also sharing a special blessed wafer as a symbol of unity with God and our loved ones. We take a piece out of other persons wafer and say what we wish for them in the New Year. There is also a special colored wafer (usually pink) that farmers share with their animals. Speaking of animals, they are believed to be able to speak at midnight. Very magical!
- After the dinner and dessert, we exchange gifts and sing Christmas carols. Unlinke Christmas songs in the US, we don’t start singing them until Christmas Eve and they have a religious character.
- The whole day ends with a midnight mass called pasterka. This vigil mass is very festive and a lot of churches have a live nativity which is especially popular among kids.
- There are 2 days of Christmas- 25th and 26th of December which are usually spent with friends and family. We drink homemade flavored liquors and vodka and add smoked meats to our menu.