Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in Poland...

As not all of you are Polish ;) and Polish traditions differ from those "western ones", here is some short info about Christmas traditions in Poland. Hope you will enjoy this little read...


First of all - we celebrate Christmas on the 24th December, on Christmas Eve.

Family members begin the celebration with a prayer and breaking of the Christmas wafer (opłatek - symbolizing the bread eaten daily — our day-to-day common life) and wishing each other good fortune in the upcoming new year. (After the prayer, usually done by the man of the house, the opłatek is broken and pieces are given to everyone attending the table. From there, everyone breaks off a piece of their opłatek, and shares it with everyone else, wishing luck and joy in the upcoming year, for Christ has been born. This wish is usually finalized by a kiss on the cheek.) Readings from the Bible concerning the nativity of Jesus are practiced in more religious households. In the countryside, it is customary to feed livestock (though not dogs, cats, and other pets) with the wafer, as the animals of the household are to be treated as people that day and are traditionally believed to speak with a human voice.

After first star appears on sky and sharing the opłatek, the supper begins. The number of dishes is traditionally the number of expected guests plus one. The number of courses is traditionally established to be either twelve or an odd number (in Silesia) twelve is symbolic of the number of months in the year is good as well as to celebrate the twelve disciples of Jesus.
Wigilia is observed as a Black Fast, and as such Poles abstain from eating meat on this day. Traditional dishes include breaded carp fillet, carp in aspic, żurek, siemieniotka (in Silesia), kutia, makowki, pierogi filled with potatoes, cheese, and kapusta (or cabbage), barszcz, uszka or a soup of cabbage and yellow peas, kluski, dried fruit compote, fried fish , herring in oil, mushroom or fish soup, meatless gołąbki, and different salads and side dishes, such as potatoes with milk and herbs, pickles, and many other traditional Polish side dishes.

The vigil supper concludes with family members giving gifts to one another. Christmas carols are also sung. Some families attend the traditional midnight mass/Shepherd's Mass (pasterka).
It is still believed that whatever happens on Wigilia has an impact on the following year. So, if a quarrel should arise, it foretells a quarrelsome and troublesome year.

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