Polish Christmas: General Overview

Which holiday is more important: Christmas or Easter? It’s always a great issue in Poland!
However, in my opinion Christmas are more magical due to that winter atmosphere and many rituals and unique traditions connected with them.

Everyday until Christmas I will post something new about Polish Christmas - hence the title of this series! I hope you are as excited as me! Make sure to follow me on Facebook not to miss new posts!

In Poland the most celebrated day is Christmas Eve on 24th of December. There are so many traditions concerning Wigilia (Christmas Eve) that this post will only scratch a surface…

I also would like to add that traditions vary among regions in Poland, even each family can have their own traditions. I just share the most popular ones :) Feel free to share your own traditions in comments!

☆ Christmas Eve begins with the first star on the sky. It’s a symbolic reference to the Star of Bethlehem. It’s also a great way to keep children occupied the whole Christmas Eve’s afternoon :)

☆ The dinner starts with a prayer and a reading of the part of The Gospel according to Matthew or Luke about the birth of Jesus. After that, we share opłatek - Christmas wafer - among everyone, saying a blessing. Usually those are very personal blessings: wishing good health, better marks in school, higher salary, finding love, etc. Also sharing opłatek with other person means you forgive them all their faults.
Opłatek - Christmas Wafer
☆ Christmas Eve is, according to Polish tradition, a fast-day. Dishes must be meatless (red meat, fish is allowed) and many people eat nothing or very little for the whole day before dinner. So forget about the big fat turkey and expect a carp! And don't worry, you won't be hungry - we have Christmas soups, traditional pierogi, salads and other mouthwatering goods!

☆ Traditionally at least twelve dishes are served. However, meaning of this number is unclear, some says it symbolize the Twelve Apostles or twelve months of the year. You have to try all dishes or you will be unlucky next year!

☆ A bundle of hay is put underneath the tablecloth. It symbolizes hay from little Baby Jesus’s crib.

☆ One additional plate is left on the table, for Baby Jesus or for the lonely wanderer in need.

☆ After meal it's time to open Christmas presents! They are left under the Christmas tree and are anonymous - you never know who gave you that gift (maybe it was Polish Santa Claus - Święty Mikołaj or as said in some parts of Poland - Little Star?).

☆ When all the gifts are unwrapped it's the right time to sing carols and pastorals. In Poland we don’t sing carols until Christmas Eve.

☆ Midnight mass, called pasterka, concludes the night.

Check out my blog tomorrow for more information!

I forgot to mention that I will post one of the well known Polish Christmas songs, carols or pastorals at the end of every post performed by popular Polish artist. Enjoy!

Let's start with an absolute classic - “Jest taki dzień" by Czerwone gitary: